Thursday 14 January 2016

Why Microbeads Are Being Banned From US Beauty Products - [UK Update 15/04/16]

I’ve just had a look through my skincare to see if I have products containing microbeads. I’m pretty sure that I’ve used face and body washes containing these tiny plastic exfoliating balls at some point. But I couldn’t find any in my current stash. That's just as well!…

Just after Christmas, the US government passed a bill, calling for manufacturers to phase out the use of microbeads by 2017. It follows years of campaigning by environmental pressure groups to have them banned.

The tiny plastic beads, which can also be found in toothpaste and deodorants, do not biodegrade. They get washed down the sink and into our sewage system. But water processing plants are not designed to handle them, so they end up back in the environment collecting pollutants along the way.

You can probably guess what happens next... the toxic beads finish up on land, in our streams and oceans. Unsuspecting animals and sea life eat them, with unfortunate consequences.  

I confess I have been completely oblivious to the environmental damage caused by microbeads. I was not aware of the campaigns to have them banned until I read about it in the news over Christmas.

While researching the story, I came across a document produced by the International Campaign Against Microbeads in Cosmetics. It offers downloadable documents with lists of all products containing microbeads. There are some big brands named including Bliss, Clarins, Clean & Clear and Neutrogena.

You can find the UK document here.

Lead pic credit: MPCA Photos 

UPDATE 15/04/16

Almost two-thirds of Brits support a ban on the use of microbeads, a Greenpeace poll published yesterday has found. Startling was that many of the 1,000 people questioned had never heard of microbeads before they were asked.

Yesterday in parliament the government  said it would be looking into the effects of microplastics on the environment - part of their research will investigate whether eating fish which have consumed microplastics has an effect on people. A Defra spokesman said they are "backing action at a European level" to end the use of microplastics.

Nevertheless, some are questioning both the UK government's and the UK beauty industry's commitment to stopping the use of microbeads in their products.  
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