THE GOOD FIGHT: In an ongoing bid to clean up the environment, a U.K.-wide ban on the sale of products containing microbeads comes into full force on Tuesday. In January, the ban was slowly phased in which barred the manufacturing of plastic microbeads in the U.K.
Microbeads, which are tiny pieces of plastic, are used in skin care and toiletry products such as toothpaste, exfoliators and face wash and because of their size, they are able to easily pass through filtration systems. According to the U.K. Parliament’s environmental audit committee, a single wash using microbead products can contain 100,000 plastic particles that will end up in the ocean, threatening marine biology.
Following suit, the Welsh National Assembly has commenced voting today on whether to introduce this ban in Wales.
“Microbeads in rinse-off products are unnecessary and harmful to sea life. The ban is a part of a range of measures here in Wales to reduce waste, tackle plastic pollution and increase recycling,” Hannah Blythyn, the minister for environment, said in a statement released by the Welsh government.
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If the vote goes through the Welsh National Assembly, the ban will be put into effect on June 30 prohibiting the sale of products containing microbeads.
According to Cosmetics Europe, the European trade association, they have witnessed a dramatic reduction of microbeads in 97.6 percent of products from its members — including members of the U.K.’s Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association such as Chanel, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty, L’Oréal and Estée Lauder cosmetics — between 2012 and 2017.
“The 97.6 percent decrease, which represents over 4,250 tons of plastic microbeads substituted and removed, could not have been achieved without substantial efforts undertaken by the industry,” said Loïc Armand, president of Cosmetics Europe.
The Netherlands initiated the ban of microbeads in 2014 and in 2015, the U.S. Congress passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. Taiwan has just announced that a nationwide ban on the production and import of products containing plastic microbeads will take effect July 1.