Microbeads are harmful in the environment

The Constituency View with Henry Smith MP SUS-170126-103725001
The Constituency View with Henry Smith MP SUS-170126-103725001

The protection of our natural environment is an issue that’s important not only to myself, but to many across the town.

Just before Christmas, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs announced that it will hold a consultation to ban plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products, aiming to change legislation by October 2017 and stop billions of tiny pieces of plastic ending up in our seas each year.

This is an issue I have previously raised with the Environment Secretary, and is something I asked the Prime Minister about in the House of Commons in September.

The UK rightly continues to lead the way on the international stage, working to stop modern slavery, supporting international development, and promoting free markets. We must continue to be world leaders in protecting our environment to ensure the conservation of marine wildlife and the rest of the planet.

Microbeads, added as exfoliators to toothpastes and shower gels, can damage marine life – a single shower can result in up to 100,000 tiny pieces of plastic going down our drains.

The damage is done when the beads reach sea life, who are able to swallow them, but cannot digest.

While an increasing number of retailers and manufacturers are already phasing out microbeads in their products, I hope that more will commit to doing the same in the near future. The Government’s aim is to ensure that going forward, beads have no place in personal care products.

For further information and to take part in the consultation, please visit: www.defra.gov.uk, or email: marinelitter@defra.gsi.gov.uk. Alternatively, you can write to: Marine Litter Policy Team, DEFRA, Area 8B Millbank, c/o Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR.

Please feel free to send me a copy of any submission to the consultation.