After a warning in 2016, microbeads are now illegal to use in care products like exfoliating scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels.

It was proven that they have a negative impact on the environment, causing harm to animals and the environment. When they are washed down a drain, they enter the seas and are swallowed by fish and crustaceans – with potentially harmful effects. Manufacturers will no longer be able to add the beads into products.

Microbeads are commonly found in face washes, claiming to help exfoliate.

A further ban on the sale of products containing microbeads will come into force later in the year, the government has declared.

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said:

‘The world’s seas and oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets and I am determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life. Microbeads are entirely unnecessary when there are so many natural alternatives available.’

She called this a ‘new milestone’ in tackling other forms of plastic waste.

Senior pollution officer at the Marine Conservation Society, Dr Sue Kinsey, said this would be a strong and comprehensive ban on microbeads in the world.

Face wash I get, but toothpaste? Whose bright idea was that?

‘We believe that this signals a real commitment on the part of this Government to clean up our seas and beaches and hope this is a first step on this road before we see further actions to combat plastic waste.’

Chairwoman of the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee, Mary Creagh, also praised the ban, but said there needed to be more done to tackle plastic pollution.

Microbeads are entirely useless when it comes to face washes. Small beads of plastic don’t exactly benefit your skin. Not to mention the amount of damage it does to things like pipes and sea life. You wouldn’t throw a plastic bottle in the ocean, so whyshould these be accepted?