Microbeads are being phased out of cosmetics and personal care products in Australia, according to an independent assessment.
The federal government commissioned the assessment which found that out of approximately 4400 relevant supermarket and pharmacy products inspected, only six per cent contained microbeads.
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This follows the challenge set by Australia’s environmental ministers to voluntarily phase out microbeads in cosmetic and personal use products.
The independent assessment found no shampoos, conditioners, body washes or hand cleaners containing microbeads, the remaining six per cent were not “rinse off” products and posed a smaller risk to the environment.
Microbeads are plastic particles of around one millimetres in diameter and are often found in exfoliants. They can have a damaging effect on marine life and the environment because of their ability to attract toxins, pollute waterways and transfer up the food chain.
Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the best solution is to prevent them from entering marine environments in the first place.
“Governments have been working with industry to do just this since the Meeting of Environment Ministers in 2016,” he said.
“While our original target was 90 per cent, we will continue the good work done to date until 100 per cent of cosmetics and personal care products are microbead-free,”
“I thank industry for their cooperation and look forward to continuing to work with them until we reach 100 per cent.”
Assistant Minister for the Environment Melissa Price said she was pleased with how well the phase out had gone, considering it was an optional phase out of products by the industry.
“I am really pleased to see such a strong industry response, given the damage that microbeads can do to our marine ecosystems,” Assistant Minister Price said.
“This is further proof that industry is capable of making the right choices when it comes to environmental protection.”
The Federal Government will commission a further assessment on late 2018 to provide an additional level of assurance of the success of the phase out.