Should an immediate ban on microbeads in toiletries be imposed?

Many cosmetics and toiletries such as shower gels and anti-ageing creams, scrubs and even toothpastes contain thousands of tiny microbeads to add body and provide abrasion. 

These tiny plastic beads are then flushed into our rivers and the sea and then eaten by fish and shellfish which we eventually consume. It has been estimated that an average plate of shellfish could contain as many as 50 plastic particles.

There is now a demand for an immediate ban in the UK which has been called by the Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society and Fauna & Flora international. Some cosmetic companies have said there should be a voluntary ban on them and the EU is looking to ban them in 2020

However MPs have now joined the call for an immediate ban with the Environmental Audit Committee Chair, Mary Creagh saying

“Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain. A single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean. Cosmetic companies’ voluntary approach to phasing out plastic microbeads simply won’t wash. We need a full legal ban.” 


Products that contain them don’t necessarily list “microbeads” in the list of ingredients. Instead, they will often list the petrochemical plastics that go into them, such as polyethylene and polypropylene.

We all probably use many products containing microbeads, and are not aware of this. They could be harming all of us, contaminating our environment and harming not only us, but our children and grandchildren.

What are your views. Do you consciously try to avoid buying products containing microbeads? Should we have an immediate ban in the UK of cosmetics containing microbeads? Is it fair to delay this potential ban?

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