The Liberal Democrats have written to Andrea Leadsom the new Environment Secretary calling on her to introduce a ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetic products.
Previously ministers have claimed the government supports a ban but is working towards an EU-wide position before taking any unilateral action.
In a letter to Andrea Leadsom, Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder and Environment Spokesperson Kate Parminter say given the result of the EU referendum campaign the Government must act now to ensure a ban is enacted into UK law.
Catherine Bearder commented:
“The UK government can no longer hide behind the long-term prospect of an EU ban.
“Immediate action is needed in the UK to address the threat to our environment and human health posed by microbeads.
“Andrea Leadsom must also face up to the consequences of Brexit, including the loss of influence over EU measures that protect our environment."
Full text of letter below:
Dear Secretary of State,
A growing body of scientific research is showing the significant threat to our environment posed by microbeads. Thousands of tonnes of these tiny pieces of plastic debris, commonly found in exfoliating facial washes and body scrubs, enter our oceans each year. This ends up being ingested by fish and entering the human food chain, damaging our marine environment and also posing a potential risk to health.
A recent report showed that even if all current industry commitments were fully met, there would still be over 4000 tonnes of microplastics from personal care products entering the seas each year. This shows that a voluntary approach is not sufficient to address this pressing issue.
In May, former DEFRA Minister Rory Stewart stated that the UK was working towards a common EU ban on microbeads in cosmetic products, and that if this was not achieved the Government would be open to acting unilaterally.
Given the recent vote to leave the EU, will the Government now commit to ensuring a ban on the use of microbeads in consumer products is enacted into UK law?
More broadly, how will you ensure Britain continues to take a strong leadership role in addressing shared environmental challenges both in the European continent and the wider world after having left the EU?
Catherine Bearder MEP
On 5 May former Environment Minister Rory Stewart told MPs: "If we cannot get a common position out of the European Union, we are open to the possibility of the UK acting unilaterally."