Microbeads are a popular component found in many common products in South Africa including face washes, toothpastes and even shampoos. Many environmental organizations have been advocating for microbeads to be banned because of its negative impact on the planet and animals.
National government has set up a task team to investigate banning microbeads in South Africa after the Water Research Commission found microplastic pollution in the drinking water of Johannesburg and Tshwane. There was also microplastic found in all the rivers tested in Gauteng.
The task team is currently consulting with the plastic and cosmetics industries in South Africa.
Speaking to News24, Department of Environmental Affairs spokesperson, Albi Modise, said that the department is extensively engaging in the possibility of a complete ban on microbeads, particularly petroleum-based microbeads.
One of the proposals that the task team has recommended thus far is an amendment to be made to the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act to ensure that microbeads are no longer manufactured for these substances.
According to Modise, the task team had also consulted the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association to find out what its position is on the important, manufacturing and use of microbeads in various products.
“The association has expressed the same concerns as those of DEA, and is working with the European Union and other local research institutes to look at alternatives into microbeads,” he said.
Many countries across the globe have imposed a ban on microbeads, or at least a plan to ban the manufacture and import of these beads. Countries that imposed a ban in 2018 include the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan and France.
Other countries, such as India, Ireland and Italy, have already drafted legislation for the ban to come into effect.
A study conducted by Orb Media found that tap water from a dozen different countries contained up two 83% of micro plastic contamination. The United States had the highest contamination rate with 94% of its tap water containing samples of micro plastics.
The UK, Germany and France has the lowest pollution rates with a tied 72%.
No studies have been done on the overall effects of ingested microplastics on the health of humans.
For alternatives to microbeads for exfoliation, see the video below: