Great news in the fight against ocean pollution; a production ban on using microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products has come into force in the UK. The ban prevents manufacturers from using microbeads in their products with immediate effect, and stipulates that retailers will no longer be able to sell products containing microbeads as of July 2018.
The ban comes after campaigners called for microplastics to be removed from all cosmetic and personal care products due to the harm they pose to marine life and the contamination risk they pose to global drinking water supplies.
Reports state that thousands of tonnes of plastic microbeads from cosmetics wash into the sea every year.
Last year, Green People joined forces with Greenpeace and other leading organic beauty brands to raise awareness of the dangers of microbeads and to present a petition of over 350,000 signatures to Downing Street. The petition demanded a comprehensive, international ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetic and household products and it seems that the government has finally decided to take action.
After the success of the 5p carrier bag charge that was introduced in England last October, which has seen an 85% reduction in the number of single use bags used, it shows that small changes in our daily habits can really make a big difference.
What are microbeads?
Microbeads are tiny plastics with huge consequences and are used to give an exfoliating action to products such as scrubs, shower gels, toothpastes and washing detergents. Microbeads are defined as any plastic less than 1 millimetre in size, but in reality most plastic particles used in cosmetics and household products are much smaller than this, measuring around the width of a human hair.
As many as 100,000 microbeads can be flushed down the drain in a single shower and our water treatment plants are not designed to filter out something so small. Once they enter marine ecosystems their minute size and sheer number make them impossible to remove.
A new study has found that small fish may actually prefer eating microbeads over natural food sources such as plankton. Not only are these fish favouring marine plastics over their natural diet, exposure to high concentrations of plastic particles is making them smaller, slower and more susceptible to predators.
The fight doesn't end here...
Whilst campaigners celebrate a victory against microbeads the fight to protect the planet from pollutant plastics continues. The ban on microbeads is not a blanket-ban and only applies to rise-off products. This means that the perilous plastics can still be used in products such as mascara and can even be found in sun lotions.
What’s more, Environmental Scientists have raised concerned that glitter, which is increasingly used in cosmetics, is made from plastic particles. Far from adding a touch of sparkle to our lives, when glitter goes down the plug hole it can be consumed by marine life and end up in the human food chain. As the plastic used to make glitter is thought to release chemicals that can disrupt hormones in the bodies of animals and humans, campaigners are calling of its use in cosmetics to reviewed.
How to avoid plastic microbeads
While a production ban on using microbeads in rinse-off products has come into force, retailers can still sell microbead-containing products that aren't classed as 'rinse-off' as there is currently no plan to ban the production of products such as mascara or sun lotion that still contain microbeads.
People looking to avoid microbeads and plastics in their products should steer clear of products containing these plastic ingredients: polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon.
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Green People has never used microbeads in any product and uses gentle, natural ingredients such as Apricot kernel powder, Bamboo stem and Pineapple enzymes to remove excess dead skin cells and to give your skin a radiant glow.
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