Plastic Microbeads Banned in the U.K. but Your Products May Still Have Them
By Anna Hunt
It can be quite surprising to find out that your facial scrub, body wash or toothpaste contain thousands of tiny plastic microbeads. What’s even more appalling is the fact that thousands of tons of these microbeads end up in the ocean every year. Because of this staggering impact on our waterways and oceans, the U.K. has joined the U.S. in a ban of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products.
The problem with microbeads is that consumers rinse them down the drain, sending these plastics into our waterways. This problem reached such magnitude that, due to pressure from environmental groups, governments are now banning these tiny plastics.
For example, U.S. government passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. It prohibits the manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of rinse-off cosmetics and over-the-counter (OTC) personal products containing plastic microbeads.
Slow Phase Out Process
Unfortunately, when a new law affects multi billion-dollar corporations, the actual implementation of such law can be quite drawn-out. The new U.K. law has banned the manufacture of products with microbeads as of January 2018, although it allows the sale of these products until July 2018.
In the U.S., the phase-out schedule for relevant products is much longer. Although the U.S. law banned the manufacturing of cosmetics with microbeads starting July 2017, it allows sales until July 2018. Furthermore, the ban allows the sales of rinse-off products categorized as OTC drugs until July 2019. Finally, when a manufacturer categorizes their product as both cosmetic and OTC, they get yet another year before the ban is in full effect.
Clearly, actual phase-out of microbeads is going to take some time.
If you’re concerned about contributing to the problem of plastic pollution, here’s a great resource: Beat the Microbead offers an extensive list of products, by country, showing which do and which do not contain microbeads. Check it out here.
Why is a Ban of Plastic Microbeads Necessary?
For years, consumer product manufacturers have been using plastic microbeads in hundreds of personal products, without much forethought about how these plastics will impact the environment. Producers make these beads from polyethylene or other petrochemical plastics.
Due to their small size, the microbeads are not always filtered through treatment filtration systems. Thus, they end up in our lakes and oceans, where animals can mistake them for food. As a result, we are polluting our own food supply.
Here’s a short story about microbeads:
Plastic microbeads may be small, but they are a significant part of the plastic pollution problem. As always, you have a choice in what types of products you buy and use. Check if your products contain these ingredients: Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) or Nylon (PA). These ingredients typically signify that the product contains microbeads.
As well, consider switching to another brand, at least until microbeads are completely phased out. Some of my favorite “clean” brands include: Dr. Bronner’s, Simple Sugars, Kiss My Face, and California Baby. (These are my Amazon affiliate links. Please support my writing by clicking the links and trying one of these products.)
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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