Plastic microbeads must be banned from toiletries by 2017
Plastic microbeads must be banned from toiletries to reduce harmful marine pollution, MPs have said.
The tiny pieces of plastic are commonly found in items such as exfoliating body scrubs and toothpaste, but there are concerns that they are building up in oceans across the world, potentially damaging wildlife and entering the food chain.
It is estimated that up to 86 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment each year in the UK from facial exfoliants alone, while a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.
Many cosmetic companies have already made a voluntary commitment to phase out the use of microbeads by 2020.
The cross-party Environmental Audit Committee wants tougher action to be taken and has called on the Government to ban the use of the plastics in the products by the end of 2017.
The committee also called for clearer labelling on whether products contain microbeads, and highlighted alternatives such as ground almonds, sea salt, and oatmeal.
The report also suggests that microplastic pollution could be more damaging to the environment than larger pieces of plastic because their size makes them more likely to be eaten by wildlife and then potentially enter the food chain, for example a plate of six oysters can contain up to 50 particles of plastic.
The report concludes that there is little evidence of microbeads impacting on human health.