Why you should be grateful for the upcoming microbead ban

“Most people would be dismayed to know the face scrub or toothpaste they use was causing irreversible damage to the environment.”

New year, new laws: The UK government is set to trigger a nationwide ban on cosmetic and personal care products that contain microbeads starting from 1 October 2017.

These bad beads – typically found in toothpastes and face scrubs – have been causing some mischief to our precious marine environment. And besides antagonising our poor little (and not so little) sea creatures, microbeads haven’t been doing us humans any favours either.

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Microbeads are found in many face scrubs. Image credit: theodysseyonline.com

Microbeads are an added ingredient in many cosmetic and beauty products that act as an exfoliate. After brushing your teeth or rinsing yourself off in the shower, these tiny plastic beads are washed down the drain and make their way through open waters. Lakes, rivers and oceans become a toxic breeding ground for even a single microbead. What makes matters worse is that fish (including the ones we eat) are consuming these nasty beads.

So the next time you’re dining at some fancy seafood restaurant and ordering a plate of half a dozen oysters, chances are you might actually be consuming plastic. Noteworthy is that just one plate of oysters can contain up to 50 micro-plastic particles – a vicious food chain cycle indeed.

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A plate of oysters can contain up to 50 micro-plastic particles.  Image credit: Pinterest

“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”, says Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

Furthermore, the committee has also revealed that a single shower could consequently result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean. It’s no wonder that the UK has issued a nationwide ban alongside the USA, which was the first country to publicly announce its battle of the beads in 2015.

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Off the shelves for good by 2018. Image credit: theodysseyonline.com

Cosmetic giants such as L’Oréal, Boots and Avon have vowed to discontinue the manufacturing of microbeads in their own-brand products. Moreover, many other companies are set to follow suit by the end of the year. The aim is to take all products that contain microbeads off the shelves for good by 30 June 2018.

In the meantime, consumers should particularly look out for terms such a polyethylene, polypropylene and polymethylmethacrylate – tongue-twisting words that are chemical names for plastics – on the listed ingredients of the relevant labelled products.

 

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