indy100 / Datawrapper

Microbeads created a huge stir back in 2016, as more and more campaigns fought to have them banned.

You may remember the Daily Mail's 'Ban the Beads Now' campaign, which resulted in a government commitment to end all usage by the end of 2017.

Microbeads, if you don't remember, are the tiny plastic pellets present in many beauty scrubs, make-up products, toothpaste and household goods.

They are made of non-biodegradable plastic, and can't be extracted during water treatment. They also don't dissolve in water.

Therefore, they end up in the oceans. Forever.

That's a serious environmental hazard, as well as a danger to animal and human consumption.

Nasty stuff, right?

However, it's a little worrying just how few countries have actually banned them thus far...

Not particularly overwhelming.

Holland declared that it intended to be free of microbeads in cosmetics by the end of 2016. They seem to be progressing nicely over there, with 80^ of large companies due to have switched to microbead-free products by 2017.

In the US, the Microbead-Free Waters Act passed in 2015, which will phase out microbeads in cosmetics by July this year.

In 2016, the Federal Government of Canada classed microbeads "a toxic substance" in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

In late 2016, Ireland declared its intention to formally notify the EU that it will ban the sale and manufacture of certain products containing microbeads, as well as advocating for a ban throughout the EU.

Despite the fact that nobody can predict what effect Brexit will have on the EU legislative jurisdiction in Northern Ireland, we can pretty much call them banned in Ireland.

And...that's it.

OK but, what about the countries that are PLANNING to ban them?

Even fewer.

The UK government is definitely introducing a ban on microbeads in cosmetics by the end of 2017, which is when they will be banned from sale. Definitely. Probably.

That is, unless a ban would be a breach of EU law on trade, which nobody's quite sure about - unless the UK has already broken with the EU by then, in which case... Nobody's quite sure.

In New Zealand, reports suggest that they are moving towards a ban, but nothing concrete as yet.

This is worrying.

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