UK to ban microbeads, says Michael Gove

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 21 July 2017 in News

Michael Gove says microbeads – tiny pieces of plastic that are easily swallowed by marine life – will be banned from use in cosmetics and personal care products

Michael Gove - credit: PA

The UK Government will ban the sale of microbeads as part of efforts to reduce plastic in the ocean, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced.

The measures, unveiled by Gove as part of a speech on ‘delivering a green Brexit’, would mean microbeads – tiny pieces of plastic that are easily swallowed by marine life – will be banned from use in cosmetics and personal care products such as toothpastes and shower gels.

Announcing the government would follow a recent consultation with legislation to prohibit their use later this year, Gove described the effect of microbeads on marine life as “devastating”.


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Gove also outlined plans to explore new methods of reducing the number of plastic bottles from entering the oceans.

Speaking at WWF UK on Friday morning, Gove said: “Eight million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the world’s oceans each year, putting marine wildlife under serious threat.

“In October 2015, the government introduced the 5p carrier bag charge. Figures released today show that policy’s enormous success – nine billion fewer carrier bags distributed since the charge was introduced, a fall of 83 per cent. More than £95million raised from the charge has been donated to environmental, educational and other good causes.

He added: “There is more we can do to protect our oceans, so we will explore new methods of reducing the amount of plastic - in particular plastic bottles - entering our seas, improve incentives for reducing waste and litter, and review the penalties available to deal with polluters - all part of a renewed strategy on waste and resources that looks ahead to opportunities outside the EU.”

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