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Sale and manufacture of microbeads officially banned

  • News
  • December 5, 2017
Sale and manufacture of microbeads officially banned

The Ministry for the Environment has announced today the official ban on the sale and manufacturing of certain types of products containing plastic microbeads.

Banning the sale of plastic microbeads have been in the works since the start of 2017, in an effort to lessen the amount of plastic that travels into our oceans.

In January of this year, the Government said the scope of the ban has yet to be defined as limited information then existed on which products contained microbeads in New Zealand.

Now, it has been clearly defined by the Ministry for the Environment that two types of microbead-containing products are facing prohibiting regulations.

This includes wash-off cosmetics such as facial and body exfoliants, toothpastes and heavy-duty hand cleansers; and also abrasive cleaning products, including household, car or industrial cleaning products.

About 100 personal care products in New Zealand contain the tiny plastic beads. It is estimated about 10,000 tonnes a year of plastic microbeads are used globally. 

The reason for the ban, as stated by the Ministry, is to prevent plastic microbeads, which are non-biodegradable, entering our marine environment. 

Microbeads, which are around 5mm in size, have an ongoing effect in our oceans, harming both marine life and in turn humans who consume most ocean-based food.

Minister for the Environment, David Parker, says that microbeads had been legislated against because of their long term effects.

“They get washed down the drain but are too small to be fully captured by our waste water treatment systems. These minute plastic particles enter the marine environment where they accumulate, do not biodegrade, and are mistaken for food. This causes long-term damage to New Zealand’s marine life.”

“This ban was initiated by the previous Government.nWe supported the regulations while in opposition and we’re happy to be bringing these regulations into force,” says Parker.

Many retailers have already taken steps to take microbeads off shop shelves. New World, Pak 'n' Save and Four Square stores stopped selling all microbead products on July 1, 2017. Foodstuffs and Countdown have removed the beads from their own-brand products.

The ban is expected to come into effect in early June 2018, six months after notification in the NZ Gazette later this week.

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