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Microplastic Microbeads

Microbeads, added as exfoliators to face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels, can cause serious harm to marine life, with one shower sending up to 100,000 beads down our drains. Up to 680 tonnes of plastic microbeads are used in cosmetic products sold in the UK every year, resulting in billions of tiny beads entering our seas annually. These microbeads do not biodegrade and accumulate in the marine environment.

Scottish Ministers have committed to introducing secondary legislation in Scotland, with the rest of the UK, to ban the manufacture and sale of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads which may cause harm to the marine environment. The ban would apply to solid microplastic ingredients, less than 5 mm in size in every dimension, which are used as an ingredient in rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products including but not limited to exfoliating scrubs, shower gels and toothpastes. 

This ban will provide preventative action on harmful substances entering the marine environment and will deliver for the Scottish Government’s vision for clean, healthy safe, productive and diverse seas; managed to meet the long-term needs of nature and people.   

A joint-UK consultation was completed in February 2017 to investigate a ban on the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK, and calling for evidence on other sources of microplastics entering the marine environment.

The Summary of Responses was published on 21st July 2017 and can be downloaded below.

The ban on both manufacture and sale of microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and personal care will come into force in Scotland and across the rest of the UK in 2018.

Summary of Responses Document for the Consultation on the Proposal to Ban the Use of Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Downloadable document:

Title:Microplastic Microbeads
Description:Reducing the levels of Microplastic microbeads in our waters.
File:Microbeads UK Consultation Summary of Responses Document [PDF, 391.0 kb: 26 Jul 2017]
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