VIEW FROM THE HOUSE

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

CON­STITUENTS who have vis­ited the sea­side or our in­land water­ways over the sum­mer months will prob­a­bly be very pleased that one of the first de­ci­sions taken, as the House of Com­mons as­sem­bled in Septem­ber, was to help pro­tect the marine en­vi­ron­ment.

There are plans to ban the sale and man­u­fac­ture of cos­met­ics and other per­sonal care prod­ucts which use mi­crobeads.

Bil­lions of minute plas­tic beads are be­ing used in prod­ucts like face scrubs or shower gels. They are even used in tooth­paste. These mi­crobeads end up in the drainage sys­tem and from there en­ter the sea, where they build up in the marine en­vi­ron­ment. They may be swal­lowed by fish and other sea crea­tures. There is con­cern that they could end up in the hu­man food chain.

Over the sum­mer, the En­vi­ron­ment Au­dit Com­mit­tee of the House of Com­mons rec­om­mended that this ban should be put into place. Their re­port pointed out that one shower can pro­duce 100,000 plas­tic par­ti­cles. Over­all, mi­crobeads from fa­cial ex­fo­liant prod­ucts alone are es­ti­mated to add up to 86 tonnes of mi­croplas­tics en­ter­ing the marine en­vi­ron­ment in the United King­dom.

There will be an ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion on ban­ning the man­u­fac­ture and sale in cos­metic prod­ucts. There are also plans to gather ev­i­dence on the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of plas­tic mi­crobeads used in house­hold and in­dus­trial clean­ing prod­ucts. In the longer term, the plan is to ex­am­ine the im­pact of other ma­te­ri­als like mi­crofi­bres on the marine en­vi­ron­ment.

I have al­ready seen a big change in the amount of lit­ter from plas­tic bags, since the in­tro­duc­tion of the 5p plas­tic bag charge. This has re­sulted in six bil­lion fewer plas­tic bags be­ing is­sued this year. There might not be such a vis­i­ble in­di­ca­tor for mi­crobeads, but the seas and oceans face a big pol­lu­tion prob­lem from plas­tic waste, ir­re­spec­tive of its size.

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