Proposed ban on microbeads in NZ open for consultation
Public consultation on banning the manufacture and sale of personal care products containing plastic microbeads in New Zealand is now open.
Microbeads are plastic beads less than 5mm in size. They are added to products such as facial scrubs and toothpastes to give texture, act as an abrasive or bulking agent, prolong shelf-life of the product, or provide visual interest. To identify these plastics in your products’ ingredients, the most popular polymer used is polyethylene.
The problem with plastic microbeads is that when released into the environment they are too small to be retrieved, they are cumulative and they do not biodegrade. Recent studies have shown they can be mistaken by marine life as food, causing long-term damage to aquatic animals like fish and mussels. This also poses a potential threat to human health as these sea creatures are caught and sold as kaimoana.
The use of plastic microbeads in personal care products makes no sense when there are suitable alternatives; especially as these products – such as facial scrubs, toothpaste and body wash – are designed to be washed straight down the drain.
For these reasons the Government is proposing to ban the manufacture and sale of products containing plastic microbeads in New Zealand under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. This follows similar global action being taken in the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia. And while some manufacturers have already agreed to phase out plastic microbead ingredients, regulation will ensure the market responds more swiftly.
Public consultation on the proposed ban is now open and will run until 5pm Tuesday 28 February 2017. To make a submission or for more information, visit the Ministry for the Environment website(http://www.mfe.govt.nz/waste/waste-strategy-and-legislation/waste-minimisation-act/proposal-ban-sale-and-manufacture)