Australian Supermarkets To Remove Products With Microbeads From Sale

Following on from the US government's total ban on microbeads, local supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles are removing products containing the particles from shelves.

Beauty products such as face washes, body washes and toothpastes can contain up to 300,000 of the tiny plastic particles, which are usually added for exfoliation purposes. But most of us have no idea.

"People think they contain exfoliants like apricot kernels and walnut shells and other natural ingredients but the reality is that these products contain microbeads that are so small that they get through the waste water treatment plants and end up in our waterways and harbours." says Environmental activist Jon Dee.

Microbeads can cause catastrophic harm to the ecosystem.

"The problem with microplastics is that once they are in the waterway and in the sediments, we can't get them out," says University of New South Wales's Professor Emma Johnston. "There is no way of filtering all the sediments of every harbour in Australia to remove those plastics."

At one site in Sydney Harbour, the concentration of microplastics was found to be greater than outside a former plastics factory in Sweden.

"I think it's time that we removed them from all non-essential products," Professor Johnston said. "The full extent of their toxicity is still unknown."

Environment Minister Greg Hunt says "Already Coles and Woolworths have responded and committed to banning microbeads from their shelves by the end of 2017, but we want to see a full national phase out."

But environmentalists say the Government should follow the lead from the US Government, with its recent commitment to legislate a formal ban of microbead production by 2018.

Product manufacturers are also taking action, with Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and The Body Shop pledging to find microbead alternatives.


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    Perhaps its time for governments to legislate that companies have to prove that their products, once released/used in the environment, will not cause any short term toxicity or any medium to long term pollution.

    It's really simple, all products that can find there way via normal use into water, must only be made using natural products that degrade into natural products. An alternative to microbeads already exist in the form of Sugar as a soft exfoliant, and as a hard one glass, or silica based microbeads, aka sand, it comes in many grades.

      glass beads / sand are likely to cause plumbing issues / waterway issues as well I would imagine... need something biodegradable like apricot kernels mentioned etc

      And @Maid, good luck getting either side of gov successfully legislating anything (new) that would prevent a company from exploiting profit potential (regardless of the potential harm)...

        Yeah I know :-(

        If the legislation actually passed then they have to ban all fossil fuelled vehicles.

        Another thing is those 'flushable' toilet wipes. Pretty sure they cause lots of trouble with plumbing etc.

          They are not flushable. They don't break down at all. If they did, you would open a packet and it would be mush already.

          I'll admit to still using them though.

            I'm well aware they don't break down. The companies claim them all to be "flushable" though. I'm sure I read somewhere that in the UK they were causing big problems to the sewage networks. I traveled Europe with a mate on and off over a 3 month time frame (some same countries, others we split up) and he took with him enough supplies of the 'flushable wipes' to last him the whole trip! I've never seen so many damn wet wipes in my life! He must have cleaned out Costco before he left. At one point his suitcase was too heavy and stuffed about 10 packs into mine.

              There is a whole lot of shit that you can flush but shouldn't though. But yeah, advertising. They are causing issues everywhere. Look up the Adam Ruins Everything video on youtube. He gives a quick rundown on them, the problems, sources and the whole thing is pretty entertaining. Worth the 3-5 minutes.

      I don't think we actually 'need' microbeads. I'm prey sure it's just a marketing gimmick, what's wrong with using a shower sponge / loofah if you really need to exfoliate?

    Unfortunately we only have a minister responsible for wrecking the environment and not one for protecting it.

    I used a facial scrub years ago that had granules in it - oatmeal husks. It was fantastic and didn't contribute to the destruction of the earth. Vanity really is a mortal sin in this regard. There are so many natural alternatives to these granules: oatmeal, apricot kernels, even ground nut shells. It's simply manufacturing cost vs environmental cost and government regulators should be more proactive to cease the sale and manufacturing of these goods, as Maid suggested in the first comment.

    i'm using these kinds of facial wash with microbeads in it. sometimes i find it too drying for my skin..

    Phasing it out by 2017? Really? Just don't order any more from the companies using it. Order something else instead.

    It's not like they have massive stockpiles sitting anywhere. Their wharehouses have a 3 day turnaround at most.

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