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Microbeads have officially been outlawed in Ireland

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

Image: Shutterstock/KYTan

IRELAND HAS OFFICIALLY outlawed the sale, manufacture, import and export of products containing microplastics.

The Microbeads (Prohibition) Act 2019, which was signed into law on 6 February by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, comes into effect today. 

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

The Microbeads Act also makes it an offence to dispose of any substance containing microbeads by pouring it down the drain or into marine or freshwater environments.

A person convicted of an offence under the Act could receive a fine and/or a prison sentence of up to six months.

Conviction on indictment (after being tried before a judge and jury) may mean a fine of up to €3,000,000 and/ or a prison sentence of up to five years.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been assigned the responsibility of implementation with support from customs officials and gardaí.

A department spokesperson said that Ireland will continue to work with the Commission and other EU Member States to develop further “robust regulatory measures to address microplastic pollution”.

In October the EU gave Ireland the greenlight to outlaw plastic microbeads but has yet to introduce legislation for an EU-wide ban. 

The UK banned the manufacture and sale of microbeads back in 2018, following the US’s ban back in 2015.

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Adam Daly

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