UK Government plans to outlaw microbeads! But a limited ban won't do.

Posted by Fiona Nicholls — 7 September 2016 at 9:43am - Comments
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace

This weekend, the Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced a plan to ban microbeads from cosmetic products like face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels. This is brilliant news for the 350,000 people who have signed our petition in collaboration with Fauna & Flora International, the Marine Conservation Society and the Environmental Investigation Agency. It shows the government is taking steps to protect our oceans from this pointless plastic pollution. BUT… (oh why is there always a ‘but’?!)

There’s a load of products containing microbeads, like washing detergents and other household products - which might not be banned. That makes no sense to us. After all, what does a hungry fish care if the microplastic clogging its gut has come from a face scrub or a washing powder? Either way it’s harmful.

So we’re calling on the Government to ensure that the ban must be comprehensive and go beyond toiletries and cosmetics. And the good news is that newspapers are echoing our call for a complete ban!

President Obama made headlines back in 2015 when he announced a ban on microbeads. But the US’s ‘Microbead Free Waters Act of 2015’ is riddled with loopholes. It’s limited to things like ‘rinse-off’ products that are designed to ‘cleanse’ or ‘exfoliate’, these specific phrases mean that a load of products containing microbeads are still legally for sale in the US and continue to pollute the oceans. It’s not good enough.

Before setting anything in stone, the environment department (Defra) have announced a three month consultation period during which they will look for evidence of why other household products should be included in the ban. We’ve got a few ideas...

Theresa May’s Government now has an opportunity to take global leadership and implement a ban that can be used as an environmentally sound blueprint for other countries (and there are a lot of countries now looking at this issue).

There’s as many as 550 million microbeads being dumped into UK seas everyday, so we’ve got to make sure that the ban passed is the best ban possible for our oceans.

To make sure we get that, we need as many people as possible to be ready to step up and help secure this complete ban on microbeads. Are you in? Add your name here.

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