The ban dictates that manufacturers are no longer able to create rinse-off toiletries products that contain microplastics in the UK, and a further ban on the sale of these products will come into place in July.
It includes products such as face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels.
“The world’s oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets and I am determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life,” said the country’s environment minister, Thérèse Coffey.
“Now we have reached this important milestone, we will explore how we can build on our world-leading ban and tackle other forms of plastic waste.” Full details of the ban in the UK can be found here.
Microplastics have been found to create significant pollution in seas and waterways across the world, with environmental bodies and campaign groups having described the impact as devastating.
In recent years, the issue has dominated the agenda for environmental protection across the world, and bans are already in place in several other major markets.
Holland, the US, Canada and Ireland are among those countries who have already banned the beads, while many more are in the process of following through on pledges to do so.
Success for campaigners
One group that led the push for the ban in the UK is international environmental lobby and activist group, Greenpeace.
It describes the UK’s ban as “the strongest ban on microbeads in the world to date”.
“This is great news for our environment and a positive sign of Britain’s global leadership on ocean plastics,” says the group.