It seems like only last week I was typing up a quick report about the U.S and their The Microbead Free Waters Act; come the 1st of July 2017 (a lot sooner than I imagined), cosmetic brands will begin to phase out the tiny, plastic beads often found in toothpaste, body wash and body scrubs. Rather impressively, the U.S have a fairly firm stance on Microbeads - Illinois banned the sale of products containing such beads back in 2014. California also pledged to phase out the beads by 2020 long before the The Microbead Free Waters Act was passed and rightly so too.
Next to follow suit is Sweden - Kemi, the Swedish Chemicals Agency, has proposed a ban on rinse-off cosmetic products containing Microbead from January 2018. As of now I am unsure if that includes toothpaste or not but I'd imagine it will, it would be rather pointless to half heartedly regulate the production of the tiny plastic shards, only to allow certain products to slip under the radar. Kemi also want to see such regulation expand throughout the EU, after a little research it does seem that Denmark will follow Sweden's lead in the coming months and years. You can read more about Kemi's proposal here - link.
If you are wondering what the U.K's current stance is on the issue, let me catch you up. Within the U.K 25 manufacturers have stated that will they will ensure that all of their products are 100% Microbead free, a small dent but a start none the less.
So what is the problem with those often bright, teeny tiny particles found in beauty products? Well for starters, more often than not Microbeads are not biodegradable - meaning they will never dissolve nor disappear. Rather when they are washed away down the drain, they go straight into the sewer system and as water plants don't have the technology to filter them out of the water, the beads wash up into sea causing pollution. Current research (which I do hasten to add is still ongoing), has suggested that the beads may be absorbing toxins along the way. It has also been found that marine life confuse the small beads as food and of course consume them, as many of us eat fish there is a good chance that unwittingly along the way you too have consumed plastic.
Grim huh? We have no real need for Microbeads and I think most of us have used them in the past unaware of the environmental consequences - I know I did. With that in mind and education on the issue currently filling most social media channels, I really don't think many would mourn the demise of the Microbead here in the UK. I look forward to the day that we too have a similar stance to the aforementioned countries and nation.
What are your thoughts?