Neville Prior

UK Could Ban Microbeads

Neville Prior  6 May 2016 03:30:10 PM
Image:UK Could Ban Microbeads
The UK government may step in and ban plastic microbeads found in shower lotions and facial scrub products if the European Union (EU) backs away from taking action. Rory Stewart, the environment minister, told the House of Commons yesterday that in the event the UK could not get agreement from Brussels “we are open to the possibility of the UK acting unilaterally”. Currently legal in the UK, the use of microbeads in cosmetics is banned in a number of countries, including the US, and the British Plastics Federation has also confirmed its disapproval.

Microbeads are virtually impossible to retrieve from the waste system and can end up in the sea or rivers. A recent survey by Greenpeace, the environmental pressure group, found that more than 80% of consumers would not buy a product if it was found to pollute the marine the environment. The government’s stance was broadly welcomed by the organisation, but it said that any legislation would need to go further than that enacted by the US, where only certain types of microbeads are covered.

Dr Erik Sebille from Imperial College London argued that microbeads contributed only a small amount of the total plastic waste in the world’s oceans. However he told the BBC that a ban was “the right way” to address the problem of plastic pollution in the marine environment at its source.
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