Plastic microbeads are back under the spotlight today as a consultation goes live on banning cosmetics and personal products in Wales that contain the offending ingredient.
The 12-week consultation process will look at the implementation and enforcement of the Welsh ban on the manufacture and sale of the products that are made using the ocean-polluting microbeads.
The consultation proposes banning microbeads from June 30 2018 with the Welsh government working alongside the Welsh Local Government Association, with a view to using enforcement authority Trading Standards.
The cabinet secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs agreed to implement the move in Wales, through Welsh secondary legislation, following a previous UK-wide consultation, which revealed what the Welsh government has called an “overwhelming support for a ban”.
Lesley Griffiths, environment secretary, said: “Litter is a major issue for our seas. I am pleased we, along with the rest of the UK, are taking positive action to reduce the amount of plastic which ends up in our oceans.
“Although we do not believe the use of microbeads is widespread among manufacturers in Wales, the purpose of this consultation, in addition to raising awareness of the issue, is to ensure the legislation does not disadvantage Welsh businesses in any way.
“The proposed commencement date of June 30 is, I believe, sensible as it provides businesses long enough to prepare for a ban and it gives us a realistic timescale to draft and introduce legislation which is fit for purpose and future-proof.
“We are extremely proud Wales has the third best recycling rate in the world. We still have some way to go, though, before we achieve our ultimate aim of becoming a zero waste country.
“This ban is part of a package of measures we are considering to reduce waste and tackle the damage created by plastic pollution. All of these measures have the potential to make a positive contribution to protect the marine environment. It is timely we plan to introduce a microbeads ban in 2018; which is Wales’ Year of the Sea”.