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Face scrubs and toothpastes hit as ban on microbeads begins

Article Posted by Sky News

The beads, found in face scrubs and toothpastes, are not biodegradable ALAMY

Face scrubs and toothpastes are among a number of products to have been banned from store shelves amid a government crackdown on toiletries containing plastic microbeads.

The manufacture of products containing the tiny pieces of plastic was made illegal back in January, and the ban on their sale comes into force across England and Scotland on Tuesday.

Wales and Northern Ireland are set to follow in the autumn as part of an ongoing bid to cut down on plastics in our oceans, with soaps, shower gels and cosmetics all affected by the ban.

The government wants to stop people from using products containing microbeads because of the damage they can do to marine life, with a single shower capable of flushing away 100,000 of them.

It is estimated that up to 51 trillion microbeads are currently in our oceans.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: "Microbeads might be tiny, but they are lethal to sea creatures and entirely unnecessary.

"We have led the way in banning these toxic pieces of plastic, but this is by no means the end in our fight.

The manufacturing ban was welcomed by campaigners and several cosmetic companies that already used natural alternatives to microbeads.

But even with the sales ban now in force, the government has been warned that more still needs to be done.

Dr Lyndsey Dodds, head of marine policy at wildlife charity WWF, said: "The ban is a good step, but to tackle the tidal wave of plastic we need to think bigger than banning single sources.

"The government needs to ban all unnecessary single-use plastics by 2025 and turn the tide on our throwaway culture."

Dr Sue Kinsey, senior pollution policy officer at the Marine Conservation Society, added: "This is the strongest and most comprehensive ban to be enacted in the world so far and will help to stem the flow of microplastics 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 we look forward to seeing further actions to combat plastic waste."

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