Will the push to eliminate microbeads in Ireland succeed?

Published by Aoife Rose O'Reilly on

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”1/1″ style=”padding: 0px;”][x_feature_box title=”Why are microbeads terrible?” title_color=”hsl(0, 0%, 3%)” text_color=”hsl(0, 0%, 1%)” graphic=”icon” graphic_size=”60px” graphic_shape=”circle” graphic_color=”hsl(0, 0%, 100%)” graphic_bg_color=”#2ecc71″ align_h=”center” align_v=”top” side_graphic_spacing=”20px” max_width=”300px” graphic_icon=”question-circle” style=”color: hsl(0, 0%, 1%);float:right;border:2px solid green;”]Microbeads are tiny beads of plastic common in face-scrubs and toothpastes, usually as an exfoiliant. Microplastics are even smaller and found in practically all cosmetics. Given their small size they routinely pass through water filtration systems and into the food chain of organisms in the rivers and seas, causing harm to wildlife and often working their way back into the human diet. They also contribute to the ‘plastic soup’ that has accumulated in the world’s oceans. The Pacific Ocean is home to an immense patch of plastic rubbish known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.[/x_feature_box][cs_text]Microbeads may soon be on the way out. A bid to ban microbeads in cosmetics is been brought before the Seanad for second stage debate this Wednesday. The bill also seeks to eliminate microplastics in these products.

The bill, lead by the Green Party and Senator Grace O’Sullivan, is the latest in a list of decisions from other countries around the world. The Netherlands was first to announce its intent to be free of microbeads by the end of 2016. The UK government also plans to ban microbeads by 2017. France and Italy are now moving to introduce a microbead ban. They are currently outlawed in the US and Canada plans to ban them by 2018.

Grace O’Sullivan commented: “There’s no need for this when there are equally effective ways of producing quality cosmetics and toiletries that offer value for money, but don’t leave a trail of destruction in their wake. The public awareness on this issue is growing. People are starting to move from the identifiably harmful products. But with such a penetration of micro-beads and micro-plastics in the cosmetics industry, many people are unwittingly flushing millions of micro-beads down the drain, whilst micro-plastics are even harder to detect.”

Back in 2014, An Taisce called for a “quick phase out” of microbeads, saying that the beads are absorbed or eaten by sea creatures and could potentially be absorbed by humans. The Irish government has said in the past that they ‘support the principle of banning microbeads’ so long as industry is given time to adjust.

Senator Grace O’Sullivan said that it was on the back of the government’s vocal support of bills that encouraged them to propose legislation: “We’ve had legislation ready on banning micro-beads for a while. We welcome that the government are considering such a ban. We’re sure there will be cross-party support on this bill, and we look forward to working with Government to implement a ban.”

Fianna Fail is thought to be working on a microbead bill of its own. It’s not clear whether the government will back the current proposed Green’s Bill, or wait until Fianna Fáil has drafted their version.

The bill is due to be debated in the Dáil and in Seanad Éireann at 2.30pm tomorrow.

Coastwatch are also launching their autumn 2016 beach survey results tomorrow in Trinity College, with discussions on key findings including microplastics, microbeads and their interactions with wildlife.[/cs_text][x_author title=”About the Author” author_id=””][/cs_column][/cs_row][/cs_section][cs_responsive_text selector=”.h-responsive” compression=”1.0″][/cs_content]

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Aoife Rose O'Reilly

Aoife is a contributor to Green News. She has a degree in Natural Sciences from Trinity College Dublin and an MSC in Evolutionary Biology from UCD. She also volunteers with Dublin Zoo.