Microbead ban could be on UK agenda, minister suggests

11-May-2016

If the UK cannot get a “common position” out of the EU, it may take action on its own

The UK could take independent action to ban plastic microbeads in cosmetics products, environment minister Rory Stewart has suggested.

Stewart, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, touched upon the issue in the House of Commons on 5 May when Labour MP Daniel Zeichner MP said: “The Americans and Canadians are moving to ban these. What’s the UK government doing?”

Stewart replied: “Firstly let’s be very clear, microbeads do pose potentially a threat, a serious threat because the stuff doesn’t biodegrade, it can collect toxic material. We’ve run a research programme on this. We’ve been working very hard to make sure the full 500 million members of the EU sign up to a common position. But if we cannot get a common position out of the EU we are open to the possibility of the UK acting unilaterally.”



Find out more on ingredient regulation updates and the recent regulatory developments affecting cosmetics in Europe at the 2016 Cosmetics Business Regulatory Summit.


At present, a European parliament resolution that supports a ban on microbeads has the backing of 350 of the 751 MEPs, the Guardian reports.

In a recent survey from Greenpeace, nearly two thirds of people in the UK would support a ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetics, while a petition calling on the Government for a ban as amassed more than 250,000 signatures on the Greenpeace website.

Microbeads are small plastic particles often found in cosmetics products that provide exfoliation benefits. These particles, which are typically not biodegradable, pose health threats to marine life and animals, as well as harm to eco-systems.

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