A UK-wide prohibition on the use of plastic microbeads in the manufacture of some cosmetic and personal care products has come into effect.

A UK-wide prohibition on the use of plastic microbeads in the manufacture of some cosmetic and personal care products has come into effect.

We proud of the UK in Banning microbeads. These tiny pieces of plastic are added to rinse-off products such as face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels. 

Growing concern over the impact of these tiny plastic beads on marine life has convinced the government to act.

A full ban on the sale of products containing microbeads will come into force in July 2018.

Microbeads are solid plastic particles of less than one millimeter in their largest dimension. They are most frequently made of polyethylene but can be of other petrochemical plastics such as polypropylene and polystyrene.

Why should you care about microbeads? Well, there’s already loads of plastic in our oceans – plastic bottles, plastic bags and lots more. In fact, about 8 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year. These kinds of things end up in the stomachs of seabirds, whales, and other marine life. Microbeads are a particuarly dangerous culprit – they’re so small they are unable to be filtered by our sewage systems and pollute our oceans.

Ocean plastic does not disappear by itself, so for every bit that ends up in the ocean, it means more cleaning up – with much of it impossible to tackle at all.

Microbeads are tiny, and may seem harmless, but 100,000 microbeads are washed down the sink with a single application of some products, ending up in the sea and the food chain.

Experts say that in the course of a single shower, about 100,000 plastic particles from gels can enter the sewage system. While this sounds like a staggering amount, microbeads actually make up only a small proportion of the amount of plastic that ends up in the sea from the UK every year. Figures from the Department of the Environment suggest that between 0.01% and 4.1% of marine microplastic pollution comes from cosmetic product sources.