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Microbeads To Be Banned By UK Government By 2017

First Posted: Sep 07, 2016 05:36 AM EDT

Microbeads - toxic, tiny plastic beads in cosmetics and cleaning products - will finally be banned in the UK by 2017. These tiny pieces of plastic, that are commonly found in toothpaste, exfoliating body scrubs, and other household products have been said to be damaging to the environment, and environmentalists fear that their buildups in oceans make them prone in entering the food chain.

As to how the ban will work, a consultation will lead to plans for action, but a number of cosmetic companies, BBC noted, already made voluntary commitment to phase out their use by 2020. However, the UK is not having it - despite arguments that companies are already phasing them out, There are those that are exploiting loopholes or dragging their feet. So far, supermarket beauty products such as those by Asda, Waitrose, and Sainsbury's have already dropped the microbeads, as did Unilever - a major company that also owns Dove and other brands. Unfortunately, not all have had this in mind, bog names such as Proctor and Gamble, which also owns Crest toothpaste, Gillette, and Olay, will not be able to phase them out entirely by 2017.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee finally stepped in to protect the environment as they feel need be - after all, a previous study showed that a single shower can lead up to 100,000 plastic beads entering the ocean, and The Guardian noted that they can affect fish growth as they persist in mussels guts and can be mistaken by fish for food.

Not all cosmetics with bead-like feel contain microbeads, though. Instead, find words like polyethylene, polypropylene and polymethylmethacrylate in the list of ingredients for your beauty products. These words, including their corresponding abbreviations PET, PTFE, and PMMA - are all chemical names for plastics.

A US ban on microbeads has already been approved by President Barack Obama, as well, covering cosmetic products with microbeads, including toothpaste, soap, and even body wash. A single cleansing product can contain thousands of microbeads, which is why there had been alternatives offered for better exfoliation, including jojoba beads, apricot kernels, ground nutshells, and even salt.

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