Over 90% of Britons want Cameron to ban toxic microbeads

Publication date: 14th April 2016

London, 13 April 2016 – An overwhelming majority of Britons believe a ban should be introduced in the UK on the harmful microplastics known as microbeads, according to a new survey commissioned by Greenpeace UK. More than 90 % of respondents supported a ban similar to that introduced by Barack Obama in the US, representing an opportunity for David Cameron to take a position at the leadership table on marine plastic pollution.

The results of the poll published today showed that an overwhelming 84 % of consumers would be turned off from buying  a company’s product if it was found to be extensively polluting the oceans and come after more than a quarter of a million people have signed a petition calling for a ban.

The survey also demonstrated that over two thirds of people were not aware of what a microbead was, but when told said they would subsequently avoid using anything containing them.

Microbeads are a type of microplastic that are found in a variety of personal care products, used extensively as an exfoliating agent in wash-off creams, scrubs, gels and even toothpaste.They are too small to filter and millions end up in our oceans on a daily basis. Microplastics represent one of the biggest emergent threats to marine life.

On the findings of the survey, Louise Edge, oceans campaigner with Greenpeace UK, said:

“These results show clearly that a vast majority of UK consumers are concerned that the personal care products they buy are causing millions of microplastics to flush down our drains and out into our marine ecosystems.”

“Microbeads are one of those rare environmental problems that are actually relatively easy to solve. A ban is easy to introduce and alternatives are already available. Although it would not alone eradicate the problems caused by microplastics, it would set an important precedent in the UK that pumping plastics into our oceans is not acceptable.”

The survey results come on the back of one of Greenpeace UK’s fastest growing petitions. Released in conjunction with the Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna and Flora International and the Marine Conservation Society, more than a quarter of a million people have already called on David Cameron to ban microbeads.

Public pressure has already had its say elsewhere on microbeads. Following outcry on the levels of microplastics found in the USA’s Great Lakes, President Barack Obama introduced a ban on microbeads in December 2015.

There are also bans on microbeads in some Canadian provinces and discussions on bans in numerous other countries including Australia and India.

Notes to editors:

  1. The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 1,000 General Consumers aged 16+ in Great Britain between 05.04.16 – 07.04.16.  The survey was conducted from a random sample of UK adults.  Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

To read the poll results please click here

Click here for the Ban Microbeads petition

For more information, as well as interview requests and pictures of microbeads please contact: Greg Norman, press officer, Greenpeace UK +44 (0) 7763435 315, greg.norman@greenpeace.org