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Sweden leads European ban on microbeads

Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog (Sweden) announced a ban on the sale of cosmetics containing microplastics at the United Nations Ocean Conference at the beginning of June 2017. The ban is to come into effect by 2020. Six other European countries have joined Sweden’s initiative: Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxemburg and Norway.

However the ban is limited to rinse off products, which means it applies to plastic particles added to exfoliant scrubs. In 2015 the United States introduced a similar ban — the Microbeads Free Water Act, which was later criticized because other cosmetics still are still allowed to contain plastic particles which can end up in the sea, such as sun tan lotion, deodorant, lipstick and shaving foam.

The international Beat the Microbead coalition welcomes the legal ban, but believes it should not be limited to rinse off products and just seven countries. Only when microplastics in all cosmetics have been banned, will we be able to guarantee that they no longer enter the maritime environment. The European Union must take this decision.