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Law to ban microbeads in Ireland set to be published

Microbeads are mostly used in some soaps, shower gels and facial scrubs.

Image: Shutterstock/KYTan

CABINET HAS AGREED to publish new laws that will outlaw the sale, manufacture, import and export of products containing plastic microbeads.

Cabinet agreed in July last year to ban microbeads, but progress on constructing legislation has been slow.

Microbeads are mostly used in some soaps, shower gels and facial scrubs to exfoliate skin, although they can be found in toothpaste and abrasive cleaners.

Tiny plastics

The tiny plastics (usually between 0.0004-1.24 mm wide) enter the world’s waterways in their billions, and because of their size, are almost impossible to remove.

In waterways, fish and other wildlife mistake the tiny scraps of plastic for food and from there, the beads are integrated into the food chain.

The US banned their use in 2015.

While other political parties  such as the Green Party and Labour have introduced their own Bills on banning microbeads, the government argued they were ‘significantly flawed’ and accused Labour’s Bill of ‘generally confusing’ microbeads and microplastics.

Green Party Senator Grace O’Sullivan’s Micro-Plastic and Micro-Bead Pollution Prevention Bill 2016 was opposed by government as it said it breached EU law. The Bill provided for a fine on prosecution of up to €10,000 for each item for sale, sold, or manufactured which contained microbeads.

EU countries and the European Parliament agreed before Christmas on details of a ban on single-use plastics, including plates, cutlery and drinking straws, in a bid to cut marine pollution.

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