UK brands issue open letter calling for microbead ban

NYR, Pai, Green People and Botanical Brands speak out on World Oceans Day

Four beauty brands and retailers have sent an open letter to the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron calling for a ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetic products.

Susan Curtis, Deputy Chair of Neal’s Yard Remedies; Kim Allan, Managing Director of Botanical Brands; Charlotte Vøhtz, Managing Director of Green People; and Sarah Brown, Founder of Pai Skincare signed the letter, which was released today to coincide with World Oceans Day.

In the letter to Cameron, the four signatories explained that it is not often that businesses call on government to regulate their own industry. The letter read: “Removing plastics from personal care products is the most efficient and cost-effective way of stopping this pollution. ‘End of pipe’ solutions through upgrading of sewage treatment plants would be far more costly.”

It continued: “We believe that microplastic beads and particles should never be used in personal care and domestic cleaning products. It is unacceptable for industry to produce products that pollute our oceans when alternatives are readily available.”

While several companies and retailers have made public pledges to stop using microbeads in their wash-off products by certain dates – P&G and J&J have pledged to phase out microbeads globally by 2017 – others are seen to be less forthcoming with potential action. Addressing this issue, the letter noted: “Unfortunately, many others in our industry have been dragging their feet on this issue. Whilst some have commitments in place, these mostly do not cover all product types and many have long or unclear phase-out targets.”

A petition with more than 300,000 signatories was also handed in today, pressing Cameron to follow the lead of President Barack Obama and issue an outright ban on the plastic particles. The petition was created as part of a joint campaign between organisation Beat The Microbead, Environmental Investigation Agency, Fauna & Flora and Marine Conservation Society.

UK Environment Minister Rory Stewart recently stated that the UK could act unilaterally if a common decision could not be reached in the EU concerning a microbead ban.

Earlier this year, Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 into US law, which means that by July 2017 the manufacture of wash-off products containing microbeads will be phased out, with sales stopped by July 2018.

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