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CTPA's Director-General comments on UK Government’s proposal to ban plastic microbeads in cosmetics

21 July 2017

The UK Government has issued a response after reviewing all of the replies received to its public consultation on the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetic products and other consumer goods.

Dr Chris Flower, Director-General of CTPA, a toxicologist and Chartered Biologist, responds to the Government report on behalf of the Association:

“It is important that any ban is based on scientific evidence of risk to the marine environment. CTPA therefore welcomes the news that following the public consultation, the Government remains committed to banning the use of plastic microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products only where there is clear and robust evidence of harm to the marine environment.

“CTPA has been clear throughout the Government’s consultation process that to safeguard the marine environment properly, any ban should be based on clear and robust scientific evidence that is supported by data. Only solid plastic microbeads contained in some rinse-off cleansing and exfoliating products have been associated with marine litter: other ingredients in cosmetic products have not been shown to contribute to marine litter.

“Since 2015 the cosmetics industry has been voluntarily removing plastic microbeads from rinse-off cleansing and exfoliating personal care products. The vast majority of UK cosmetic manufacturers have already made significant progress, which means that the task of removing plastic microbeads from these products will be complete by 2018, the timescale proposed by the Government.

“CTPA is pleased that the consultation has also identified the other sources of marine microplastic pollution. The contribution from cosmetics towards the total volume of primary microplastic deposited into the marine environment each year is 0.29%*. We look forward to hearing how Government proposes to tackle those sources known to be major contributors to marine plastic pollution so that a genuine impact can be made on plastic pollution in our oceans for the future.”


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* Eunomia “Plastics in the Marine Environment” June 2016