As many of you know we have a big issue with plastics entering our oceans and rivers. We can help by watching out items that carry Microplastics and microbeads. Microplastics are small plastic particles in the environment that are generally smaller than 1 mm and are manufactured for products clothing, cosmetics and industrial processes. Microbeads are manufactured solid plastic particles of less than five millimeters and are found in exfoliates, cosmetics and soaps. Until they are phased out, consumers can take action by avoiding personal care products that contain polyethylene, polypropylene or nylon – the most common materials used in microbeads.
The aquatic wildlife feed on tiny bits of plastic which then become lodged in their stomachs or intestines and are entering through their tissues, as well. Some are so small you cannot see them with the naked eye. These plastic eating fish are showing up in our supermarkets.
“While there is a need for further assessment of the problem, the report is the first attempt, on a global scale, to identify the main sources, fate, and effects of microplastics in the ocean and offers improved understanding of the scale of the problem. The assessment suggests that there needs to be a wider awareness of the potential harm that microplastics in the oceans could cause,” said Dr. Stefan Micallef, Director Marine Environment Division, at the International Maritime Organization the Administrative Secretary of GESAMP.
The good news is that the federal government in the UK will ban microbeads by the end of 2017, http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/plastic-microbeads-ban-federal-government-1.3837969 the Federal Government will be banning toiletries that have microbeads in them by 2018. The federal government states that Microbeads found in natural health products, non-prescription drugs will be prohibited in 2019.
The U.S. Congress https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/12/28/statement-press-secretary-hr-1321-s-2425 law approved the banning of microbeads in toiletries last December, effective July 1, 2017 and the European Union Commission is currently examining on the basis of a recently published study made available (1) early in 2016 — if and what actions are necessary to reduce microplastics from various sources in the aquatic (freshwater and marine) environment and that the materials could not be labelled as environmentally friendly. Australia has a voluntary ban in effect for mid – 2018.
There are many companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Unilever, which owns Dove and more have already phased them out. Procter and Gamble, which owns Crest toothpaste, Gillette, Olay and Tesco in the UK, will have ended them by 2017.
Now, what can we do to help in the interim? Bringing awareness to people and try using products that are natural alternatives, that biodegrade and pose no harm to marine life including jojoba beads, apricot kernels, ground nutshells, and salt. Consumers looking to avoid microbeads should avoid products containing polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and nylon.