UK to ban microbeads after huge public outcry over their use in scrubs, washes and toothpastes

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Microbeads will be banned after environmental campaigners warned that the tiny plastic particles are making their way into waterways where they are eaten by wildlife.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced the move in a speech on Friday after a public consultation over the beads, found in a wide range of personal care products such as face washes, exfoliators and toothpastes.

In his first major address in the role, Mr Gove confirmed a manufacturing and sales ban in response to mounting evidence of environmental harm.

Speaking at the World Wildlife Fund UK, Mr Gove said: “Eight million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the world’s oceans each year, putting marine wildlife under serious threat.”

He added: “Last year the government launched a consultation on banning microbeads in personal care products, which have such a devastating effect on marine life. 

“We are responding to that consultation today and we will introduce legislation to implement that ban later this year.”

​Clinique Exfoliating Scrub, Dior’s Instant Gentle Exfoliant, and Crest 3D White toothpaste have all been shown in the past to contain microbeads.

A manufacturing ban is planned from 1 January 2018, while a sales ban will follow on 30 June 2018.

Greenpeace UK, which collected more than 388,000 signatures on a petition against microbeads, celebrated on its Twitter feed by declaring: “VICTORY!”

The new law will apply to rinse-off products, but is not yet extended to leave-on cosmetics such as makeup and sunscreen.

The cosmetics industry has argued against broader-reaching legislation, arguing that the inclusion of such products would mean reformulating up to 90 per cent of their existing lines.

An expert committee will rule on leave-ons later this year.

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