UK government just announced plans to ban microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products.
As of 2017, manufacturing and selling of cosmetics and hygiene products that contain tiny pieces of plastic, known as 'microbeads', will be banned.
The reason for the ban comes from the fact that each year billions of microbeads from beauty and hygene products such as face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels, end up piling up in oceans. As such, they pose a serious threat to marine life (and environment in general), since sea creatures such as fish or crustaceans can easily swallow the free-flowing plastic bits in the water.
The ban will be discussed later this year, while evidence will be gathered on the extent of the environmental impacts of microbeads found elsewhere, such as in household and industrial cleaning products.
According to Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom, 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. She also added that adding plastic to products like face washes and body scrubs is wholly unnecessary, especially when harmless alternatives can be used. Manufacturers are already lookng at natural alternatives, such as nut shells, salt and sugar - all environmentally-friendly and with the same effect on the skin as the plastic microbeads.
Apparently, twenty-five UK cosmetics and toiletries companies, including Unilever, have already voluntarily started to phase out microbeads from their products. Waitrose has announced they will stop stocking such products by the end of September.