Marine environment and the ban on microbeads - March 2017

I know that the future of the marine environment is important and that litter can have a detrimental effect on its quality. This is why the Government is developing a National Litter Strategy, advised by representatives from local government, industry, campaign groups and independent experts. It will complement existing work, including actions to address litter in the marine environment: reducing litter and littering on land should lead to a reduction in the amount that reaches the sea.
 
Ministers have also consulted on proposals to ban the sale and manufacture of cosmetics and personal care products containing harmful microbeads, aiming to change legislation by October 2017. This consultation has now closed and the responses are being considered. It has also gathered evidence on the environmental impacts of microbeads found elsewhere, such as in household and industrial cleaning products, and consider what more can be done in future to tackle other plastics, such as microfibers, that also enter the marine environment.
 
Clearly there is an international dimension to this issue so I am pleased that the UK, along with several of our neighbours, is party to an international organisation known as the Oslo and Paris Convention for the Protection of the North East Atlantic. In 2014 its members agreed a regional action plan to address marine litter, which is one of its most important objectives.
 
As well as the above measures, the 5p charge on single use carrier bags has brought about an 80 per cent reduction in the use of plastic bags, which will also help to address the issue of litter in the marine environment.