The Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, has announced plans to ban microbeads in cosmetic and cleaning products in the UK by 2017. This follows a report by the Environmental Audit Committee highlighting the damaging impact they can have on the marine environment.
Mrs Leadsom said: “Most people would be dismayed to know the face scrub or toothpaste they use was causing irreversible damage to the environment, with billions of indigestible plastic pieces poisoning sea creatures.”
Water UK has been a strong supporter of the Marine Conservation Society’s ‘scrub it out’ campaign and is pleased to see the government taking the lead on this important topic.
The beads are designed to exfoliate the skin, but often travel into the sea after being missed by water filters as some are less than a millimetre wide. They are made of non-biodegradable plastic, so do not break down. Evidence suggests that marine life at the bottom of the food chain is ingesting the plastic. This has wider implications across the food chain.
Water companies work hard to maintain the quality of the UK’s waters and will continue to engage with the government and Environment Agency to help reduce microplastic pollution.