The UK Just Banned Microbeads And So Should The Rest Of The World

Nadine Dilong

It’s time to ban the plastic from our cosmetics for good.

You know those tiny beads in your cleanser, exfoliator, and toothpaste? They may do a good job at keeping your skin and teeth clean, but they’re also killing wildlife, which is why the UK banned microbeads from a variety of cosmetics last week.

Following a public consultation, Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced the ban, which will come into effect on January 1, 2018 for manufacturers with the sales ban to follow on June 30, 2018.

“Eight million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the world’s oceans each year, putting marine wildlife under serious threat,” Gove explained.

Research has shown the huge effect microbeads, which are basically tiny pieces of plastic, have on marine life as mussels, seals, whales and many other species ingest the little plastic balls. This can harm the animals’ reproduction and feeding activity.

Microbeads can be found in a large variety of cosmetics, such as shower gels, makeup, creams, and toothpaste, and they’re favoured by a lot of companies as they’re cheaper than natural ingredients. While they’re used to smooth out some products’ texture, often their sole purpose is decorative making cosmetics supposedly look more appealing.

The UK isn’t the first country to ban the beads, with Canada and the US phasing the ingredient out this year, but that doesn’t mean the pollution problem is solved.

The bans mainly target rinse-off products, such as cleansers and shower gels, but won’t affect leave-on products such as creams and foundations as the cosmetics industry deemed this change too expensive arguing they would have to reformulate the majority of their products.

If you’re wondering if your everyday beauty products contain plastic, look out for any of these ingredients listed: polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate.

Ultimately, the power lies within the consumer. If we stop buying cosmetics containing microbeads, the industry will have to follow suit eventually, so let’s ban the bead from our bathrooms, and consequently, from the environment.

Comment: Would you buy a product containing microbeads?

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