Microbeads ban should be extended to NI in the Autumn

By Conor Macauley
BBC NI Agriculture & Environment Correspondent

image captionMicrobeads are small bits of plastic used in many products such as face scrubs and shower gels

A ban on the sale of products containing microbeads should be extended to Northern Ireland in the Autumn.

Following approval, it will apply from 1 October to the sale or manufacture of cosmetics and cleansing products containing the tiny plastic particles.

It is already in place in other parts of the UK.

Microbeads are small bits of plastic used in many products such as face scrubs and shower gels.

They are washed down the drain, but are too small to be filtered out by water treatment and end up in our rivers and seas.

Human health

According to the government, a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the sewage system.

There is emerging evidence that microbeads can harm marine mammals and have a potential impact on food security and human health.

image copyrightGetty Images

Any breach of the ban is punishable by a fine of up to £5000.

In September 2016, the then agriculture and environment minister Michelle McIlveen welcomed moves to introduce a UK wide ban.

Any regulations would be made under waste legislation, which gives the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs the powers to prohibit the use, supply or storage of certain products.

Council environmental health officers will police the regulations which are currently out to public consultation in draft form.

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