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Ban on microbeads in UK, Italy and New Zealand

Amsterdam, 21 December 2017 – The United Kingdom, Italy and New Zealand plan to ban plastic scrub particles in personal care products. Although these countries are taking a major step, this legislation does not mean no more plastic will enter the sea through the use of personal care products.

In London the government adopted a proposal by a special parliamentary commission to ban the production of these personal care products as of 1 January 2018 and their sale as of July 2018. In the parlementary debate which preceded the decision, references were made to the Beat the Microbead campaign’s Position Paper which among other things calls for a broader ban on microplastics.

The Italian parliament adopted a proposal on 19 December to ban microbeads scrub particles in cosmetics as of 2020. In addition, Italy will be the first country to ban plastic cotton buds as of 2019.

In early December, the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, confirmed her country will ban microbeads as of May 2018, as announced by the previous government. New Zealand’s retailers are already removing these polluting products from their shelves and adapting formulas in their own brands.

In each of these pieces of legislation the ban only affects the plastic particles with a scrub function. However, these products contain other plastics which are not covered by the legislation, such as glitter. In Great Britain, glitter in scrubs is covered by the new legislation, while glitter in make-up or shampoo is not. Most glitter comprises of a combination of aluminum and PET. When used, they pollute water with microplastics just as much as the scrub particles do. According to The Independent, British scientists recently called for a ban on glitter.

Sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

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