UK committee recommends ban on microbeads

MPs are calling on the Government to ban microbeads in cosmetics

They are a vital food source for other marine creatures.

Do you think microbeads should be banned? The microbeads in scrubs, shower gels and toothpastes are an avoidable part of this plastic pollution problem. They're basically the little beads that help scrub the dead cells from your skin. And why are they so bad?

Well, they are plastic, so they basically accumulate in the world's waters. According to the government report, up to 86 tonnes of microbeads from toiletry products are washed into the marine environment from the United Kingdom each year.

And a single shower can result in around 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.

Research done on North Sea mussels found that the gut wall could stop microplastics from entering tissues, but very small particles could potentially pass through.

"Trillions of tiny pieces of plastic are accumulating in the world's oceans, lakes and estuaries, harming marine life and entering the food chain", she said.

Ms Creagh said: "Shockingly, a plate of six oysters can contain up to 50 particles of plastic".

Yep, there'll be plastic in these oysters (Picture: Getty Images)Oh my God! "We don't know exactly what it is costing the fishing industry as it is slowing down the rate of growth and reproduction of shellfish". Through no fault of their own fish are being forced to eat poisonous plastics.

Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble have made pledges to phase out the most common kind of microbead from all products, regardless of where they're sold. But the EAC say this isn't going to cut it, and only a full legal ban on microbeads will bring about the change needed.

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Microplastic pollution comes from the fragmentation of larger pieces of plastic waste, small synthetic fibres from clothing and the microbeads used in cosmetics and other products. "If this isn't possible after our vote to leave the European Union, then the government should introduce a national ban. We will now consider what further action is appropriate, and make any announcements in due course", the spokesperson was quoted to have said.

They're basically indestructible (Picture: Alamy)Is it easy to see when something has microbeads?

Canada also banned the manufacture and sale of products containing microbeads earlier in 2015 after its own government concluded that banning the microbeads was a simple solution to a massive problem.

They said their sewerage systems and treatment processes are not created to remove microplastics and it is not a requirement of the Environment Agency to do so.

At the least, the committee is calling on the government to introduce a clear labelling scheme for microbeads during the transitional period of a voluntary phase out to provide transparency for customers.

Luckily there are quite a few alternatives that won't absolutely wreck the planet.

A tiny marine copepod (called Centropages) has ingested microbeads from a widely used facewash.

For example, Lush has a good range of oatmeal and sea salt scrubs for facial and body exfoliation.

Although microbeads are a significant and avoidable part of the problem, the wider issue of microplastic pollution can not be set aside once microbeads have been dealt with, the report found.