The United Kingdom has announced it will ban microbeads in cosmetics by the end of 2017.
The tiny, abrasive, circular bits found in many soaps and exfoliators may work wonders to create baby-soft skin, but they take their toll on aquatic life and ecosystems.
When they are washed down the drain, the microbeads enter bodies of water and poison sea creatures.
Some environmentalists fear they accumulate in oceans and enter the food chain.
The UK followed a recent decision of the U.S. to ban the beads after a petition was signed by 350,000 people.
As for Canada, back in June the federal government moved another step closer to banning microbeads when it announced it would add them to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act’s Schedule 1 list of toxic substances.
A growing number of cosmetic companies are taking the initiative to rid their products of the harmful beads by committing to phase them out by 2020.
The UK House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said last month that the government needed to step in to protect the environment as soon as it could, revealing that a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles entering the ocean.
The environment committee’s report suggested microplastic pollution could have more harmful effects on the environment than larger pieces of plastic because the tiny size makes it more likely to be consumed by wildlife and potentially enter the food chain.
As an example, it said a plate of six oysters can contain up to 50 particles of plastic, according to the BBC.
That’s why the committee called on the government to ban the use of the tiny plastics by the end of 2017.
If you’re curious to know if your latest product contains microbeads, Beat the Bead offers a free smartphone app that allows you to scan a product’s barcode to check.