Senedd bans plastic microbeads in personal care products

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The environmental impact of plastics, particularly in the seas, has become a hot topic of concern in the media. Yesterday, AMs unanimously approved regulations on the use of plastic microbeads.

While microbeads can be useful in scientific research, they’ve often been added to cosmetic products and toothpaste to provide extra lubrication and give them a “silky” feel.

As they go through the sewerage system they can be eaten by fish and other wildlife as they don’t biodegrade, either becoming toxic to them or making their way into the food chain.

The regulations (pdf) will mean:

  • It’ll be an offence to sell, supply or manufacture personal care products containing plastic microbeads in Wales.
  • Local authorities will be responsible for enforcing the regulations.
  • Businesses who breach the regulations will be liable to possibly unlimited fines based on the size of their business, the scale of the offence and the effect on the environment.
  • The Welsh Government must review the effectiveness of the regulations in 2021.

While there are no manufacturers using microbeads in Wales, a ban was said to be necessary to ensure imported products don’t have them and ensure a level playing field across the UK.

Environment Minister, Hannah Blythyn (Lab, Delyn), told AMs this was just one step on the road to a wider clampdown on single-use and unnecessary plastic – some of which is being led at a UK level. She repeated a warning from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that if no action is taken, there could be more plastic (by weight) than fish in the oceans by 2050.

A ban has already come into force in Scotland and England, with Wales now following suit on June 30th 2018.

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