Eastbourne MP backs microbead ban

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has backed Government plans to ban the use of 'microbeads' in cosmetics in an effort to protect marine life.

Mrs Ansell says she contributed to a recent report calling for an outright ban on the controversial plastics, which was published by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC).

The report says that cosmetic companies should be banned from using plastic microbeads in bathroom products – like exfoliating scrubs, toothpaste and shaving gel – because of its impact on marine life.

Mrs Ansell said, "Microplastic pollution comes from the fragmentation of larger pieces of plastic waste, small synthetic fibres from clothing and the microbeads used in cosmetics and other products. It is estimated that as much as 86 tonnes of microplastics is released into the environment every year in the UK from facial exfoliants alone.

"I have received many letters and emails from constituents who are concerned by the impact microplastics – or microbeads – were having on marine life. As many as 100,000 plastic particles are flushed into the sewage system as a result of a single shower, contributing to a massive build-up of plastic pollution in our oceans.

"Although we should welcome the commitment made by the industry in 2014 to voluntarily discontinue their use, this report makes clear that an outright ban is needed."

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom has today (Saturday) announced plans to introduce the ban.

The government says a consultation will launch later this year with the intention to ban the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads that harm the marine environment.

At the same time, evidence will be gathered on the extent of the environmental impacts of microbeads found elsewhere, such as in household and industrial cleaning products, before considering what more can be done in future to tackle other plastics, for example microfibers, which enter the marine environment.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said, "Most people would be dismayed to know the face scrub or toothpaste they use was causing irreversible damage to the environment, with billions of indigestible plastic pieces poisoning sea creatures.

"Adding plastic to products like face washes and body scrubs is wholly unnecessary when harmless alternatives can be used.

"This is the next step in tackling microplastics in our seas following the success of the 5p plastic bag charge, and I look forward to working with industry and environmental groups."

Twenty-five UK cosmetics and toiletries companies, such as Unilever, have already taken steps to voluntarily phase out microbeads from their products. Waitrose has announced they will stop stocking such products by the end of September.

The Government says it will consult industry, environmental groups and other relevant parties to establish how and when a ban could be introduced, aiming to change legislation by next year.

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