In his first major speech as Environment Secretary, Michael Gove has pledged action to reduce plastic waste choking our oceans.
He set out his his ambition for the UK to lead the world in environmental protection and announced that legislation will be introduced this year to ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads.
Last year the Government launched a consultation to ban these tiny plastic pieces commonly found in various cosmetics and personal care toiletries including toothpaste, exfoliators and shower gels.
"We are responding to that consultation today and we will introduce legislation to implement that ban later this year", stated Michael Gove. "As custodians of the fifth largest marine estate in the world, we have a responsibility in the UK to protect these unique and fragile environments."
Mr Gove also indicated that the British Government is looking at ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste, ie single-use drinks bottles entering the sea by improving incentives for reducing waste and litter. He said ""eight million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the world's oceans each year, putting marine wildlife under serious threat."
Leaving the EU gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform how we manage agriculture and fisheries, how we care for our rivers and our seas. It means delivering a green Brexit
At present it is estimated that 31 species of marine mammals and 100 species of seabirds ingest plastic.
New figures published today (21 July 2017) reveal an 83% reduction in plastic bag use by Brits since the Government introduced a 5p charge. This equates to more than nine billion plastic bags.
The Marine Conservation Society has welcomed the announcement, but said microbeads should be banned from any product that was likely to end up being flushed “down the drain”.
"Leaving the EU gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform how we manage agriculture and fisheries, how we care for our land, our rivers and our seas, how we recast our ambition for our country's environment, and the planet. In short, it means delivering a green Brexit" stated Michael Gove.
You can read Michael Gove's speech in full here.
"Microbeads Ban: Government to outlaw microplastics in cosmetic products" - The Independent
"Microbeads to be banned from bathing products, Michael Gove announces" - ITV
"Microbeads will be banned this year, Michael Gove announces in first speech as Environment Secretary" - The Telegraph