Australia's environment ministers will ban polyethylene microbeads if industry does not take voluntary action.
Jeff Angel, director of the Sydney-based Total Environment Center and a director of the Boomerang Alliance, which represents a cluster of environmental groups, said the move is “world leading.”
Federal environment minister Josh Frydenberg met his eight counterparts from all Australian states and territories in Sydney in November. They published a statement after the meeting that said they would “work with businesses to achieve a voluntary phase out of microbeads, typically found in personal-care products, cosmetics and some cleaning products” because of their “significant impacts” on the marine environment.
The strongly worded statement said ministers agree that industry must meet phase-out targets quickly and comprehensively.
The ministers will assess the effectiveness of voluntary action in mid-2017. If it has not resulted in an effective ban, “they will move at that time to regulate to give effect to a ban,” the statement said.
Angel said the proposed ban is world leading because it not only embraces cosmetic uses but also cleaning products, such as polishes and waxes.
“This is the type of effective response needed to the alarming problem of marine plastic pollution,” Angel said.