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MPs call for ban on microplastics

MPs have called for a worldwide ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetic products following a report by the Environmental Audit Committee highlighting the damaging impact they can have on the marine environment.

The Committee’s chair, Mary Creagh, said “trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world’s oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain.”

The beads are designed to exfoliate the skin, but as some are less than a millimetre wide, they can be missed by water filters after being rinsed off and travel into the sea. They are made of non-biodegradable plastic, so do not break down. Evidence suggests that sea-dwelling creatures at the bottom of the food chain are ingesting the plastic. This has wider implications across the food chain.

It is positive that the EAC has decided to recommend that this issue is monitored and tackled at its source, after considering Water UK’s evidence that separating microplastics from organic content in wastewater would require significant levels of further investment into additional filtration systems.

Water companies are constantly working to maintain the quality of the UK’s waters, and will work with the Government and Environment Agency to understand what feasible options are available to reduce microplastic pollution.

Environmental Audit Committee report