The UK Government’s ban on plastic microbeads has officially come into force

Statement from the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna & Flora International, Greenpeace UK and the Marine Conservation Society (the Microbeads Coalition)

The UK Government’s ban on plastic microbeads has officially come into force today.

The new law was supported by both Houses of Parliament last month and will ban the use of all solid microplastic ingredients in rinse-off cosmetic products. The legislation prohibits the manufacture of products containing such ingredients from 9 January 2018 and the sale of these products is banned from 20 June 2018.

Responding to this news, the Microbeads Coalition said:

“We are really pleased that the microbeads ban recommended by our organisations two years ago is now coming into force. The law introduced by the UK Government is world-leading because it overcomes major loopholes identified in other bans and voluntary measures around the world.

“The robust definition of microbeads included in the legislation incorporates all of our recommendations and this is what makes the UK ban so strong. We welcome the fact that the ban covers all microplastic ingredients regardless of their function in the product, rather than limiting the scope to those with specific purposes such as exfoliation.

“However, despite covering all microplastic ingredients, the legislation will not apply to all products that can contain microplastic ingredients because it does not cover all product types that get washed off down the drain in practice.  We therefore urge the Government to work with the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee  on extending the ban to further categories of products and Fauna & Flora International is providing input to this committee’s work.

“The UK microbeads ban provides an excellent first step towards wider action on microplastic ingredient use in all products reaching our seas as well as providing a solid foundation for preventing  all other sources of microplastic pollution. It also serves to show that governments can make a real difference in addressing marine plastic pollution more widely and we urge the UK Government to continue showing leadership on this issue.”