Two thirds of Brits think the UK should ban microbeads

Two thirds of Brits are in favour of following the example set by the US in banning the use of microbeads in beauty products, according to a new survey by Greenpeace.

Microbeads – solid plastic particles less than five millimetres in size – are found in many beauty products including facial exfoliators, body scrubs and toothpaste but are extremely harmful to marine life, which are ingesting them, resulting in toxins further up the food chain.

In December last year, President Barack Obama signed into law the Microbead-Free Water Acts of 2015 prohibiting the manufacture of rinse-off cosmetics containing the beads in the states, with the phase-out to be complete by July 1, 2017.

“Microbeads are one of those rare environmental problems that are actually relatively easy to solve. A ban is easy to introduce and alternatives are already available,” said Louise Edge, oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK. “Although it alone would not eradicate the problems caused by microplastics, it would set an important precedent in the UK that pumping plastics into our ocean is not acceptable.”

An online petition from Greenpeace is urging the UK Government to ban the beads and currently has more than 261,000 signatures.

Only one in 10 of the respondents surveyed said they think microbeads shouldn’t be banned. However, the research also revealed that 68% were unaware of what microbeads were before the survey, with 4% claiming they thought they were sex toys.

In the March issue of Professional Beauty we reported that a number of countries were taking steps towards eliminating the use of microbeads, including Australia which has issued a voluntary phase-out of products containing the tiny spherical particles. Leading beauty brands Dermalogica and Caudalie are planning to swap the beads out of their formulas for more favourable alternatives.

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