The UK ban on microbeads has been enforced, but which products are affected?

 
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The use of microbeads in personal care products is a hot topic, especially after Blue Planet II opened our eyes to the effects of waste plastic in our oceans, and the devastating impacts it can have on wildlife & the environment.

The small spherical beads are found in personal care products such as toothpaste and face scrubs and are designed to help with exfoliation. However, the beads are washed down the drain, and more often that not slip through waste-water treatment plants, meaning they end up in our seas. 

Image: beatthemicrobead.org

Image: beatthemicrobead.org

The beads are unable to degrade and so over many years they can release toxic chemicals into marine organisms. 

As of Tuesday 9th January 2018, the UK government has banned the manufacturing of products containing microbeads, with a ban on sales to follow in July. So which products will be affected?

Website www.beatthemicrobead.org has produced a list of products* which contain microbeads and are due to stop being manufactured. Products are rated with a traffic light system depending on the levels of plastic in them. 

Whilst this is a step in the right direction, the move has been criticised by some as microbeads only contribute a small amount towards the amount of plastic thrown into the oceans each year. Figures from the Department of the Environment suggest that between 0.01% and 4.1% of marine microplastic pollution comes from cosmetic product sources. In the UK it's estimated that some 680 tonnes of microbeads are used in cosmetic products every year.

 

*Please note the list produced by www.beatthemicrobead.org was correct at the time of publishing. Please contact the manufacturer for any specific queries.