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Why Your Favourite Face Scrub Could Be About To Change

Photo: Garo/Phanie/REX/Shutterstock.
The government has today announced plans to ban "microbeads" from cosmetics and personal care products in the UK.

These tiny plastic particles, an ingredient of many face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels, are too small to be filtered, which means they inevitably end up in our seas, where they can cause harm to marine life. Many leading British cosmetics brands are already phasing them out from their products.

The government will aim to enforce the ban, which follows similar steps in the US and Canada, next year after consulting with environment groups and industries likely to be affected.

Announcing the ban today, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said on the government's website: "Most people would be dismayed to know the face scrub or toothpaste they use was causing irreversible damage to the environment, with billions of indigestible plastic pieces poisoning sea creatures."

"Adding plastic to products like face washes and body scrubs is wholly unnecessary when harmless alternatives can be used," she continued. "This is the next step in tackling microplastics in our seas following the success of the 5p plastic bag charge, and I look forward to working with industry and environmental groups."

Greenpeace UK, whose petition to ban microbeads amassed over 350,000 signatures, called today's announcement a "huge step forward," but argued that the ban should not be limited to cosmetics and personal care items, but any product that goes down the drain and into our seas.