Microbeads: UK government consultation on ban concludes, responses revealed

By Lucy Whitehouse contact

- Last updated on GMT

Microbeads: UK government consultation on ban concludes, responses revealed
The UK government has released a summary of responses to its recent consultation on its proposed microbead ban, and explained how it is responding to these.

The government proposed a full microbead ban for cosmetics and personal care products towards the end of last year,​ and ran a public consultation on the proposal between December 2016 and the end of February 2017.

The purpose was to seek views on the proposal and the consultation also welcomed evidence of the effect of other sources of microplastics on the marine environment.

We are grateful for the evidence received in response to this consultation,​” the government summary confirms, noting that as a result of the consultation, it is set to continue with the proposed ban.

Based on this evidence the overall objective of our proposals remains to ban the use of rinse-off plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products where there is clear and robust evidence of harm to the marine environment.”

Responses: positive about ban

The majority of the respondents welcomed the proposed ban, the government confirms, while there were various suggestions for changes to the wording or scope of the proposal.

Many suggested modifications to the scope of the ban and/or when the ban should come into force, the government explains. Of these, there wasn’t a clear consensus: some proposed the scope should be increased to cover additional products; others that it should be restricted to cover fewer products. There was also concern about other sources of marine litter, separate from microplastics.

There were other responses related to the timescale of the ban’s implementation (some keen to see it sooner than proposed, some asking for more time), and some suggestions for tweaking the wording of the ban. The government says it has used the suggestions received from respondents to refine its proposal and prepare draft legislation.

The full summary, including the changes the government will make to responses, can be found here.

Key features of revised proposal

Here’s the list of now confirmed confirmed details of ban that the government has compiled:

  • The timescale for the ban in England becoming effective is unchanged: the ban on manufacture to start 1st Jan 2018 and the ban on sale 30th June 2018;

  • It has developed precise definitions of “microbead”, “plastic” and “rinse-off personal care product” to clearly define the scope of the ban.

  • It has retained the scope of rinse-off products, but is additionally working with the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee (HSAC) to assess the case for addressing further categories of products.

  • It has identified Trading Standards as a suitable regulator to manage compliance and enforcement in England.

  • Enforcement in England will be carried out through a range of sanctions including variable monetary penalties, compliance notices, stop notices and enforcement undertakings.

  • The Devolved Administrations are considering appropriate enforcement mechanisms, regulators and timescales according to devolution settlements.

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