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MPs attack loopholes in cosmetic industry's microbead phase out

June 8, 2016

MPs attack loopholes in cosmetic industry's microbead phase out

Damian Carrington
Wednesday 8 June 2016 17.34 BST

Voluntary action by the cosmetics industry to phase out the use of microbeads in Europe came under strong attack from MPs on Wednesday, who criticised loopholes in the pledges and slammed the lack of labelling on products containing the plastic particles.

Tiny plastic beads are widely used in toiletries and cosmetics but thousands of tonnes of them wash into the sea every year, where they harm wildlife and can ultimately be eaten by people. The US has banned microbeads and a petition signed by over 300,000 people asking for a ban in the UK was delivered to David Cameron on Wednesday.

However, giving evidence to parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee, John Chave, director general of trade body Cosmetics Europe, said: “We think voluntary action is a good way to address this problem. We think we are a responsible industry and we want to do the right thing.”

Zac Goldsmith MP disagreed: “I am trying to understand why as a trade body would you be so strongly opposed to a ban and I can’t think of any reason other than the fact that the industry is perhaps not as committed as you imply.”

Another MP, Peter Heaton-Jones, said the lack of labelling of products was a serious problem: “The consumer has no way of knowing whether that box or tube or bottle of stuff that he or she is about to buy contains microbeads or not.” Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, which represents the UK industry, said: “The practical side of [labelling] may be extremely difficult to implement.”

Loopholes in the voluntary pledges made by the cosmetics manufacturers were also raised by MPs, based on evidence submitted by campaigners. These include only committing to stop using plastics beads in “exfoliating” products, despite solid plastics being used in items including moisturisers, make-up, lip balms and shaving foams.

Read more at The Guardian.

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