Environment Secretary backs ban on microbeads
Following President Obama's support to ban highly polluting microbeads from various cosmetics such as face scrubs, shower gels and toothpastes in the United States, Andrea Leadsom, UK Environment Secretary, has agreed to move forward on a ban in the UK.
In the next few weeks ministers will also discuss if the beads should be banned from other consumer products including sun screen and cleaning products.
Microbeads are tiny plastic beads made from polyethylene, the same material used to make plastic bags. It is a robust and resilient material which does not break down after it is flushed into our rivers and seas. The UK flushes 86 tons of them on average per day.
Louise Edge, Senior Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace UK said: 'There they can cause serious harm to marine life by being eaten and leaching out toxic chemicals. They can even travel up the food chain and end up on our plate'.
The beads, which can't always be seen with human eyes, are taken in by fish, sea birds and other marine life. They do not break down, but instead build up in the animals resulting in poisoning and eventually death.
Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons have already announced they will be removing the beads from there own products and Waitrose has said it will not continue to sell any product that contain the beads after this month.
The UK government is looking to have the beads banned within months - campaigners