On 9 January 2018, the UK introduced a ban on the manufacture or supply of cosmetics products containing microbeads, following a worldwide trend towards greater oversight of plastic pollution. The ban will affect manufacturers of a wide range of cosmetics products, including face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels.
The ban has been introduced to “prevent pollution of the marine environment or harm to the health of animals”. It follows voluntary action by the cosmetics industry, which, along with increasing pressure from consumers, has meant that more than 70% of producers have already removed microbeads from their products.
The legislation makes it an offence to maufacture or supply microbeads. A supplier may be able to rely on the due diligence defence if they can show that they took all reasonable steps to avoid committing the offence.
Enforcement will be managed by Local Authorities, alongside DEFRA who will provide training and expert assistance to the local authorities. Guidance on the enforcement and sanctions regime is expected to be published.
A ban on the sale of products containing microbeads will follow later in 2018.
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