MPs recommend microbead ban

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 24 August 2016

Responding to the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on microplastics today, a joint statement by the Marine Conservation Society, Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna & Flora International, and Greenpeace UK, said: An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic goes into our seas every year - and microbeads in household products including face scrubs, toothpastes and detergents are a part of this problem.

Responding to the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on microplastics today, a joint statement by the Marine Conservation Society, Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna & Flora International, and Greenpeace UK, said: An estimated eight million tonnes of plastic goes into our seas every year - and microbeads in household products including face scrubs, toothpastes and detergents are a part of this problem. There was already huge public support for a ban on microbeads - with over 300,000 people backing our campaign - and now there’s political support which crosses party boundaries. As a coalition of organisations sounding the alarm about the harm that microbeads can cause to marine life and our oceans, and even potentially to human health, it’s great that the Environmental Audit Committee has heard that loud and clear. With companies dragging their feet on this issue, it’s now time for Theresa May’s Government to take comprehensive action on this crucial issue by banning any microplastics in household products whichcould end up going down the drain and into our seas. Crucially, any legislation must be fully comprehensive to avoid the loopholes we have seen in company commitments. By removing these loopholes, the UK could show genuine environmental leadership and go beyond the US microbeads ban, which has various limitations around which types of ingredient and product it applies to. Specifically, we ask the government to follow the below guidelines, set out by our coalition (and as specifically recommended by today’s Environmental Audit Committee report): Å Any definition of é’microbeads’ must include all solid microplastics used for any purpose (not just for exfoliation). There should be no lower size limit included in the definition. Å The legislation should cover all products that are commonly washed down the drain. This includes a wide range of cosmetic and personal care products as well as many household cleaners and other product categories. Å Legislation should not allow so-called é’biodegradable’ plastics to be used as alternatives as these materials do not degrade in the marine environment and therefore represent a false solution to the problem. Å There should be a clear timeline for phasing out these ingredients, and a date after which products containing microplastics must not be sold. Ideally this should be within two years of the ban. You can read the full report from the Environmental Audit Committee here.

Actions you can take

  1. NGO microbead briefing paper
  2. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2017
  3. Join the Plastic Challenge
  4. Find out more about nurdles
  5. Help stop the plastic tide
  6. Read our microbead ban position statement
  7. Learn about Deposit Return Systems
  8. Join a beach clean

Did you know?…

We removed 568,000 pieces of litter from our coasts in one year

Litter has increased by 135% since 1994, with plastics increasing by a staggering 180%

To date, our beach cleans have removed 6 million pieces of litter