Beware of the bead

Tesco have announced that they will remove all products containing microbeads from all of their stores by the end of 2016.

The huge supermarket chain said that it has been listening to its customer concerns about the array of products which contain microbeads, which are essentially tiny pieces of plastic, and therefore had instructed productions teams to completely cut the use of microbeads in all of their own brand products, or to use natural alternatives where necessary, such as ground coconut shells.

Microbeads are common in a huge variety of products across many brands, especially used in cosmetic products such as face scrubs, to create an exfoliating effect. However, these microbeads are actually tiny pieces of plastic and, due to them being washed away down drains, have recently been blamed by researchers that they are harming marine life’s ability to reproduce.

Group quality director at Tesco, Tim Smith, claimed that they are essentially “turning the clock back” to a time when microbeads weren’t widely used in our products, as a decade ago we all survived just fine without the 0.5mm pieces of plastic.

Smith also added that consumers of the same products now without the use of microbeads, or the replacement of natural alternatives, will not notice a difference in these newly adapted products in either price of performance.

Tesco has also been in discussion with other brands whose products may contain microbeads, to disclose exactly what is in their products, and if they were taking action to stop the use of the harmful microbeads.

UK ministers recently announced that all personal care products containing plastic-made microbeads will be completely banned from sale by the end of 2017, although it is unclear whether this will include all products, including cleaning products, which rely on their abrasive properties.

Labour MP and a member of the environment audit committee, Kerry McCarthy, said: “We’ve won the argument for a ban on microbeads in cosmetics and personal products. We need to take it a step further and see if companies can disclose what is in their products rather than relying on the likes of Greenpeace to do that analysis.”

Greenpeace, whose Esperanza ship is docked in London for the start of a major oceans campaign by the group, said that microbeads needed to be stopped at source because cleaning it up in the oceans was almost impossible.

A scientist at Greenpeace, David Santillo, claims that a complete ban is needed because once these tiny pieces of plastic are already in the ocean, it is near impossible to get them out. He said, “You can’t clean this stuff up effectively, partly because it’s too big a problem and partly because so little ends up at the surface”.

And so it seems that what once was thought to be an innocent act of exfoliating your face, is now an act of pollution affecting marine life.

To ensure that you are not contributing to the decline of marine life through the use of microbeads, take a look at this website which contains information about the signs and symbols to look out for to ensure that your products are microbead free and use natural alternatives such as St Ives facial scrub, which contains 100% natural exfoliants.


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