Microbeads (tiny pieces of plastic added to some cosmetic products) have been in the news recently after a Government consultation on banning their usage closed at the end of last month. A large number of constituents have contacted me to voice their concerns.
Globally, around 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year. This is hugely damaging to our marine animals and ecosystems: it is estimated that 90% of birds have plastic in their stomachs and serious concerns have also been raised about small plastics (such as microbeads) entering the human food chain.
I have long supported a ban on microbeads in cosmetic products and I welcome the Government’s commitment to legislate for this ban in October 2017. I know that Greenpeace has expressed concerns that the consultation did not cover all products containing microplastic ingredients, but it is worth noting that the Government has said it will gather evidence on the environmental impact of microbeads found in other products, including those for domestic use, before it considers what more can be done to tackle other plastics (such as microfibres) which affect the marine environment. I await the Government’s response to the consultation.
To reduce marine litter and plastic pollution more widely, I believe that we need to rethink the way we manage resources and in particular to transform how plastics travel through our economy. The Government’s commitment to ban microbeads in cosmetic products is an important first step but further action is undoubtedly still required.