Ireland has officially banned the manufacture, sale, import and export of products containing microbeads.
This was signed into law on the 6th February 2020 by Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy T.D.
With this act in place, it is also now an offense to dispose of any substance containing microbeads by pouring it down the drain or into marine or freshwater environments.
Microbeads are small pieces of plastic usually less than 1mm in diameter that are mainly used in soaps, shower gels and facial scrubs to exfoliate the skin. Microbeads can also be found in toothpaste and abrasive cleaners.
The beads have already been banned in countries including Canada, the US and UK.
A report by researched at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology has highlighted the potential risks microbeads have on marine environments after microbeads were detected in fish and other marine species.
While plastic microbeads amount to only a fraction of the microplastics in our oceans, it has still been estimated that many billions are being washed into the world’s seas, rivers and lakes.
Once in our seas and rivers, it can take centuries for them to break down.
The report also warns of the potential risk to human health, including the consumption of species which have been exposed to microbeads, and through bathing and other recreational activities.