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Microbeads ban in UK cosmetics products expected by July 2018

Chemical Watch 10 March 2017 | Tammy Lovell

Measure will include imports

The UK's proposed ban on the manufacture of microbeads for cosmetics and personal care products is expected to come into force early next year, a government minister has said.

Meanwhile, the proposed ban on the sale of cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads is expected from July 2018. It will also cover the sale of imported products.

Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) minister Thérèse Coffey confirmed the timeline during a House of Commons debate on 8 March. 

A consultation into the proposed ban closed on 28 February and responses are currently being assessed. It outlined proposals to ban the manufacture and sale of 'rinse-off' cosmetics and personal care products containing the tiny plastic beads. The consultation also explored further steps to prevent other sources of plastic from entering the marine environment. 

Rosie Rogers, senior political adviser at Greenpeace UK, said the debate demonstrated "the clear call from politicians for the government to ensure all products containing microbeads are banned to ensure our oceans and the creatures in them are protected".

Next steps

The UK would need to notify other EU member states of the proposals under the technical standards directive and all non-EU countries under the technical barriers to trade agreement, as required by the WTO.

The period of notification is three months for each process and they are planned to run concurrently. Following this, there will be a short consultation on the actual statutory instrument.

The legislation will be laid before both Houses of Parliament by summer, with the aim of introducing it in the autumn, Dr Coffey said.

She added the proposed ban is intended to be UK-wide and Defra would try to coordinate its approach with the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.