The U.K has placed a Ban on MicroPlastics– We explain Why.

Since 2016, the headlines in the Ecology/Environmental news section of newspapers and online blogs have been discussing The United Kingdoms’ (U.K.) alleged ban on Microbeads. The words outlaw have been used and even published. What interests Plastic Continents, is are these allegations true? Will they be put in place? How long until we see a change in their stores? and how they shelve their stores with products who use microbeads and microplastics? How are these companies reacting? Who is against this ban? and Will this ban be reinforced?The first article, the image we posted above is from The Independent. The article is titled: “Microbeads Ban: Government to outlaw microplastics in cosmetic products” and written by Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent. @montaukian on Friday 21st of July, in 2017.  The article starts with an educational video, tagged “Studies suggest there are 300 billion pieces of microplastic in the Arctic Ocean alone.”


The article begins by describing that exfoliating scrubs, shower gels and toothpaste are among the products that will be affected, by the decision of the U.K.’s government on giving the go ahead with a ban on “rinse-off” plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products due to following a public consultation.

“The proposal comes amid increasing evidence that tiny plastic particles are damaging marine life and could even pose a serious risk to human health.”

The cosmetics industry resisted calls for “leave-on” products like make-up and sunscreen to be included in the ban, saying they would have to reformulate up to 90 per cent of their products, which would be “difficult” and “expensive”.

It was published that later in the year 2017, the United Kingdom’s government would introduce necessary legislation that would consider which products should be included or excluded in the ban, which would be enforced with warnings and fines.

Greenpeace UK hailed the move as “the strongest ban on microbeads in the world to date”. “

It was also suggested by The Marine Conservation Society, that any products that were likely or could be flushed down or poured “down the drain” should be considered to be under the ban.

Michael Gove, is the Environment Secretary, shared the news and promised further action to reduce the amount of plastic waste that was entering our oceans, and was quoted for saying “putting marine wildlife under serious threat”.

The Independent also wrote that(the following is taken directly from their posted article on their website, credit goes to The Independent): “In a summary of responses to the consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), officials said that “based on this evidence the overall objective of our proposals remains to ban the use of rinse-off plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products where there is clear and robust evidence of harm to the marine environment”.

It said the timescale for the ban in England becoming effective would remain the same – manufacture will be outlawed from 1 January next year with sales prohibited from 30 June.

“We have developed precise definitions of ‘microbead’, ‘plastic’ and ‘rinse-off personal care product’ to clearly define the scope of the ban,” the document said.

“We have retained the scope of rinse-off products, but are additionally working with the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee (HSAC) to assess the case for addressing further categories of products.

“We have identified Trading Standards as a suitable regulator to manage compliance and enforcement in England.

“Enforcement in England will be carried out through a range of sanctions including variable monetary penalties, compliance notices, stop notices and enforcement undertakings.”

It added that the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales were “considering appropriate enforcement mechanisms, regulators and timescales according to devolution settlements”.

Banning plastic microbeads in cosmetics is seen as an easy way of reducing the amount of small pieces of plastic getting into the sea, partly because they are used as exfoliants and there are natural replacements.

However, most plastic gradually breaks down over time into tiny pieces, some of which are small enough to pass through the gut of animals and into their blood vessels and body tissues.

Microplastic has spread all over the planet, with one estimate suggesting there are 300 billion pieces in the Arctic Ocean alone.

A major study found humans have produced a staggering 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic since 1950, creating 6.3 billion tons of waste. Nearly 80 per cent of that waste has been dumped in landfill sites or simply thrown away into the environment.

To read more on this incredibly well written article: click here.


Other articles were keeping up with the news such as online journal: Resource; Sharing knowledge to promote waste as a resource.In their article they describe Microbeads as the following:

“Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are used as exfoliants in cosmetics and personal care products, such as toothpaste and face wash. These pieces of plastic, less than five millimetres wide, are so small that they can pass through water filtration systems and enter the the marine environment, where they are often confused as food and ingested by marine wildlife.

While the exact effects of these microbeads on marine wildlife, and on the health of humans that later eat them, are still being explored, ocean-dwelling creatures are still exposed to an incredible amount of microplastics every year – with estimates saying there are already more than 150 million tonnes of plastics in the ocean today, with 35,000 tonnes of microplastics entering the oceans every year.”


The way things, end are always interesting…

“Actions speak louder than words – Lucas”

is how they titled their last section, and describe that Gove’s newfound concern for the environment is “laudable”, but it hasn’t convinced everyone. Caroline Lucas, a Green Party co-leader, “expressed her deep reservations about Gove’s sentiments, saying: “Gove’s overture to the environment might make him sound like a keen defender of nature but his government’s actions suggest that protecting our natural world is a long way from the top of their priority list.

“There is an environment-shaped hole in the government’s Brexit plans. They failed to announce any kind of environmental protection bill in the Queen’s speech, and we still don’t know how they will transfer enforcement powers from EU institutions to the UK.”

For more information on the proposed ban on microbeads, read the Defra summary of responses document in full. ”


Some other articles that mentioned this ban up to date are the following. Click images to see full articles.




In the New York Times, which was written four days ago, they discuss the ban being implemented, as well as how there are some companies that have chosen to pledge to voluntarily phase out use of the pellets.

To read more about the U.S. Microbead-free waters Act of 2015 click here.

Why were microbeads put in our products to begin with?

Well its actually quite simple, many manufacturers including Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble advertised the exfoliating powers of microbeads, particularly in face and body scrubs.

What is the real issue with Microbeads?

According the Journal Science, a report made in 2015, showed that about eight million tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year. The microbeads represent a percentage of those plastics, which has become an increasingly growing concern and their presence in oceans, lakes, rivers, and land.

When microbeads are washed down a drain, it cannot be filtered out by wastewater treatment plants, meaning these tiny plastic beads slip through our filters and get themselves into waterways. Creatures like Fish and other marine animals often ingest them, introducing potentially toxic substances into the food chain, without control or knowledge. When we eat these marine species, we have now introduced these microplastics into our own food.

“A single shower can flush as many as 100,000 microbeads, according to a 2016 report by the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons in Britain.”

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