Microbeads have been proven to escape water filtration systems and regularly end up in aquatic food chains. These tiny bits of plastic are harmful to both marine ecosystems and Human health. One study in 2016 estimated that one in three fish pulled from the English Channel had consumed microbeads, and that a plate of oysters from the same area could contain up to 50 micro beads at any time. Clearly, plastic ending up in our food sources us not an ideal situation.
A ban on microbeads would definitely and directly benefit the environment. I believe that Labour should continue to lobby for a ban. I am pleased that the government is taking this problem seriously and has taken consultation on how best to implement a ban. I also want to ensure that the government would develop a ban in a way that would maximise environmental and human health while not violating any free trade laws or substantially hurting the business sector. It is great to see that some major cosmetic and skin care giants like L’Oréal and Clearasil have already committed to phasing out microbeads in their products in favour of other exfoliating ingredients. However I do believe that our Government should do its part to legally ensure that microbeads are banned in the most efficient way possible.
As Baroness Maggie Jones said in a recent post for Labourlords “ultimately, action is needed on a global level and there are international and European initiaves to improve plastics recycling and reduce marine dumping. But there is also a great deal more that we could do at a UK level where the problem is getting worse. The Marine Conservation Society has calculated that plastic litter on beaches has increased by 140% since 1994. There are now nearly 2,500 items of rubbish for every kilometre of beach, with much of it plastic.”
Whilst I am glad that the Government is taking serious action to ban Microbeads from cosmetics it is still vital that their actions undergo proper scrutiny and that is what I aim to provide.