On the 1st January 2018, the UK introduced ‘the strongest’ ban on microbeads anywhere in the world. Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, said there was a “serious threat” to wildlife and pledged to “explore new methods of reducing the amount of plastic – in particular, plastic bottles – entering our seas”.
Following a public consultation, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said the ban would be on microplastics in “rinse-off” cosmetics and personal care products like toothpaste. The “leave-on” products, such as make-up and sunscreen are not be included, but Ministers have asked an expert committee to examine whether they and other products should be after the cosmetics industry raised concerns about the difficulty and cost involved in reformulating around 90% of products.
Louisa Casson, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, expressed delight at the planned ban on microbeads, which will require new legislation. “This is great news for our environment and a positive sign of Britain's global leadership on ocean plastics.” She welcomed the decision to investigate an even tougher ban and further measures to reduce plastic pollution” she continued, “It’s crucial that ministers have left the door open to broadening the ban in future,”