08 August 2016

In December 2015, President Obama signed into law a progressive ban on microplastic beads in cosmetic products, as part of the response to the environmental effects of microbeads particularly on fish and the marine environment.

In the UK, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has started an inquiry into microbeads, and in May and June, UK government ministers indicated to the Committee that for the first time the UK government would support a ban on microbeads in cosmetics. Some retailers are already promising early action to withdraw products containing microbeads in advance of any regulation. It seems likely that this issue will be pursued at the EU level, possibly through developments in the Circular Economy package, and that restrictions may spread to other industries' uses of microplastics. 

Businesses whose products are dependent on microbead use should monitor developments closely and take an active role in the debate, noting the direction of travel in public and political opinion.

For more information, please contact Michael Barlow.

Find out more about our specialist REACH, Chemicals Regulation and Product Stewardship team.

Key contact

Michael Barlow

Michael Barlow Partner

  • Head of Environment
  • Head of Water
  • Head of ESG

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