The UK Government’s ban on the manufacture of products containing microbeads has come into force this week. The ban will mean that from Tuesday 9 January 2018 onwards, it will be illegal to manufacture, supply or sell products containing these tiny pieces of plastic. The Welsh Government are however yet to follow suit.
Microbeads are designed to be washed down the drain, which inevitably leads to the contamination of sea water, posing a danger to marine life and their habitats.
Traditionally, cosmetic and skin-care products contain microbeads in order to enhance the ‘scrub-off’ abilities of the product. However these microbeads, which often appear in face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels, can prove very harmful to marine life who are at risk of consuming this small pieces of plastic.
The announcement comes as part of the UK Government’s strategy to protect marine life and crack down on plastic pollution.
The Welsh Government are yet to apply the microbead ban in Wales, as they continue to consult on the matter.
Vale MP and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns is calling on the Welsh Government to follow the UK Government’s lead as early as possible in order that the ban may be applied in Wales.
The Welsh Government have announced that “following the agreement of UK Ministers to ban products containing plastic microbeads designed to be washed down the drain, we are consulting on proposals to ban their manufacture and sale from June 2018 [and] make their manufacture, supply or sale a punishable offence.”
Mr Cairns has described the Welsh Government’s statement as “disappointing” saying, “In light of the UK Government’s exciting landmark announcement to ban microbeads, it disappoints me that yet again the Welsh Government are behind the curve. The protection which this ban will provide to marine life is, to me, a clear and unequivocal indicator that it is the right step to take and I am delighted that the UK Government is at the forefront of international efforts to crack down on plastic pollution. It is however a shame that the Welsh Government continue to ponder the importance of this decision to safeguard our marine life.
“As the MP for an area which boasts some of the UK’s most beautiful coastline, I strongly urge that the Welsh Government applies the microbead ban in Wales as a matter of urgency.”