Two years ago, many of us wouldn’t have known what microbeads are. Public awareness of microbeads and the damage they cause has increased dramatically in the last couple of years. I have previously written here about this topic and about Sky’s very commendable Ocean Rescue Campaign.
Plastic waste is having a devastating effect on marine wildlife. It is shocking that eight million tonnes of litter blights our oceans every year. The amount of marine litter is increasing so much that ‘floating continents’ have formed, with one in the Pacific Ocean being larger than France. It is estimated that in financial terms, plastics marine waste costs the planet over £6 billion every year but in environmental terms, having one in three fish caught in the English Channel containing pieces of plastic, brings it close to home how bad this problem is.
Our Conservative Government is taking a strong global lead on the environment and last week the Environment Secretary laid before Parliament legislation to ban microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products, which will stop literally billions of tiny beads of plastic washing down the drain every year and from ultimately entering our oceans and food chain. Subject to a smooth passage through Parliament, this should be passed in January with the ban on their sale coming into force in July.
My colleagues and I welcome the government’s determination to crackdown on plastics. They are also exploring how to reduce the impact of plastic bottles to further help reduce marine litter. The introducing of the 5p charge for plastic bags has drastically reduced the number of plastic bags being used and the amount of litter caused. Nine billion fewer carrier bags have been given out since the charge was introduced which is a reduction of 83%.
Our two local Councils of Crawley Borough and West Sussex County also lead by example when it comes to the environment. They strongly encourage the ‘3R’s’ motto of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle when it comes to plastic waste, and we can all do our bit as individuals to help reduce plastic waste entering the environment.