The UK ban on using microbeads in the manufacture of rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products has now taken effect.
The move follows the announcement by UK Secretary of State Michael Gove in July 2017 that legislation to tackle the issue would be introduced early this year.
“The world’s seas and oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets and I am determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life,” said Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey, announcing the move.
She added: “Microbeads are entirely unnecessary when there are so many natural alternatives available, and I am delighted that from today cosmetics manufacturers will no longer be able to add this harmful plastic to their rinse-off products.
“Now we have reached this important milestone, we will explore how we can build on our world-leading ban and tackle other forms of plastic waste.”
Commenting on the ban, Dr Sue Kinsey, senior pollution officer at the Marine Conservation Society, said: “We are delighted that such a robust microbead ban has come into force. This is the strongest and most comprehensive ban to be enacted in the world and will help to stem the flow of micro plastics into our oceans.
“We believe that this signals a real commitment on the part of this Government to clean up our seas and beaches and hope this is a first step on this road before we see further actions to combat plastic waste.”
Existing products won’t be fully removed from shelves until 30 June 2018.