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UK government to ban microbeads from cosmetics by end of 2017

September 2, 2016

UK government to ban microbeads from cosmetics by end of 2017

Adam Vaughan
Friday 2 September 2016 17.49 BST

Tiny pieces of plastic in personal beauty products, that end up in the oceans and are swallowed by marine life, will be banned from sale in the UK by the end of 2017, the government is to announce on Saturday.

The move comes just days after MPs called for a ban on so-called microbeads, and sees the UK following in the footsteps of the US, which has banned them beginning in mid-2017. More than 357,000 people signed a petition calling for a UK ban, and environment groups welcomed the news of the ban.

Microbeads are very small pieces of plastic in products such as facial scrubs and makeup. Some are visible to the naked eye, but others are as tiny as one micrometre. Conservationists have warned that they can affect fish growth and persist in the guts of mussels and fish that mistake them for food.

The industry had argued that it was already phasing them out voluntarily, but critics have claimed some companies were exploiting loopholes or dragging their feet on a phase-out.

Greenpeace said the new ban was welcome but should be extended to other products too.

“It’s a credit to Theresa May’s government that they’ve listened to concerns from the public, scientists, and MPs and taken a first step towards banning microbeads,” said the group’s oceans campaigner Louise Edge. “But marine life doesn’t distinguish between plastic from a face wash and plastic from a washing detergent, so it makes no sense for this ban to be limited to some products and not others, as is currently proposed.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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