Welsh government to ban use of microbeads

By Sian Gardiner

- Last updated on GMT

Welsh government to ban use of microbeads
Wales has become the latest country to outlaw the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics, following the same decision by the UK government in September 2016.

In spite of the UK’s earlier ruling, the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have to pass their own legislation for the same ban to come into effect.

Following the ruling, the Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said: “The Welsh Government will also be implementing a ban on the manufacture and sale of cosmetics and personal care products containing plastic microbeads.

“There will be a public consultation later this year on how the ban will be implemented and enforced in Wales. Banning these products will help reduce plastics entering the marine environment.

Success for Greenpeace

The ruling comes in response to a rising tide of opinion against the use of non-biodegradable microbeads in products such as body scrubs and shower gels, which cause marine pollution and pose potential risks to human health.

A growing number of major industry players are voluntarily stepping up their efforts to eradicate the microplastics from their products: L'Oréal, for instance, confirmed the reformulation of its wash off products to remove plastic microbeads as cleansing or exfoliating agents earlier this year.

News of the latest ban will be welcomed by environmental organisations such as Greenpeace, which last year published a survey ranking the world’s biggest cosmetics players on their microbead commitments and urged governments worldwide to implement a ban on their use.

A global trend​ 

In England, the government ban on manufacture is set to begin 1st January 2018, while the ban on sale will begin 30th June 2018.

In France, a law published in August of 2016 prohibits microbeads in rinse off products from January 1st 2018, while in the US, a law banning plastic microbeads came into action on July 1st of this year.

The New Zealand government recently confirmed that the tiny plastic particles will also be banned by May 2018, with more countries following suit.

At present, just one company in Wales is said to be manufacturing cosmetic products containing microbeads, which it will now phase out. 

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