Proposals to ban the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products in the UK and call for evidence on other sources of microplastics entering the marine environment

Closed 28 Feb 2017

Opened 20 Dec 2016


Defra, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland are seeking views on the UK’s proposed ban on the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products.

The purpose of this consultation is to seek views on our proposals to ban the manufacture and sale of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads which may harm the marine environment. The consultation also seeks to gather evidence on the extent of the environmental impacts of further sources of potential marine plastic pollution, to inform future UK actions to protect the marine environment.

The Environmental Audit Committee recently undertook an inquiry on the environmental impact of microplastics in the marine environment. Its report included a number of recommendations for the UK Government to address key sources of microplastic pollution.

Microbeads (small particles of plastic) are a common ingredient in many cosmetics and personal care products such as face scrubs and toothpastes, and may be used in other products and processes including industrial blasting where abrasive materials are propelled under high pressure to remove surface deposits such as paint. They are washed down the drain but are too small to be completely filtered out in sewage treatment systems so a proportion is washed out into the marine environment.

Government action will create a level playing field for industry, tackle inconsistency, provide consumer confidence and stop new products containing tiny pieces of plastic ending up in the marine environment. This will contribute to the UK government and devolved administrations’ vision of “clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas” as set out in the UK Marine Policy Statement.

The consultation should be of particular interest to businesses involved in the manufacture and sale of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads, their trade associations/bodies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) concerned about the status of the marine environment.

How to respond:

Consultees can respond using the online survey (please see below).

Alternatively written responses can be submitted to:

Marine Litter Policy Team


Area 8B Millbank


Nobel House

17 Smith Square



Or via email:


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