Britain Has Banned 'Microbeads' In Cosmetics To Help Protect Our Oceans

Britain has just introduced a ban on the manufacture of cosmetics and care products that contain small pieces of plastic known as "microbeads" in a bid to prevent a potential aquatic massacre.

The bill, which came into force on January 8, aims to protect the marine environment from plastic pollution, as these small spherical time-bombs wash down the drain, into our oceans and are swallowed by fish and crustaceans, often with quite grave consequences.

"Polluting microplastics, which absorb chemicals, are eaten by wildlife and often enter the food chain" (Image via StockSnap)

Companies that produce certain personal hygiene products in the UK will now be prohibited from adding microbeads to "rinse-off" toiletries such as face scrubs, toothpaste and shower gel.

And the British Government plans to follow it up with a complete ban on the sale of microbeads later this year.

Environment Minister Therese Coffey ushered-in the new ruling and claims she is "determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life."

"The world's oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets," she said, while "microbeads are entirely unnecessary when there are so many natural alternatives available."

Dr Sue Kinsey, senior pollution officer at the Marine Conservation Society has welcomed the robust ban, which she says is the strongest and most comprehensive in the world.

She believes it signals a commitment on the part of the Government to "clean up our seas and beaches" and hopes it will pave the way for further action to combat plastic waste.

Environment campaigners have celebrated the move. Some, however, are still calling for a complete ban on microbeads, which can also be found in household products and kitchen sprays.

A parliamentary committee has also recommended a deposit-return scheme for plastic bottles, a "latte levy" on coffee cups and reforms to make producers responsible for their packaging.

"We look forward to hearing the Government's response," Chairwoman Mary Creagh said: 

"Our seas are choked with massive quantities of polluting microplastics, which absorb chemicals, are eaten by wildlife and enter the food chain," she added.

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