The movement of banning plastic microbeads has been gaining momentum, finally producing results with Canada’s recent banning of products that use microbeads, such as face scrubs, and UK following suit. However, banning plastics is much trickier because of where plastics turn up in products. The smaller the particle size, that easier it is to enter into food chain, and ultimately into us with health implications we will discover over time. Here’s an example of products containing plastics.
- Tires – made of rubber and 60% plastic produces dust as the tries wear down. UK is estimated to produce 63,000 tons per year.
- Synthetic Clothing – sadly this includes our beloved fleeces, as well as anything made from acrylic, polyester, polyamide, spandex and nylon. These clothing shed microfibers during each wash, that are too small to be captured by waste water filters.
- Tennis Balls – yes, that soft fuzzy yellow outerlayer is made from PET, the same material that plastic milk containers are made from. The balls shed the fuzzy layer during use.
- Laundry/dishwasher pods/tablets – all detergents have scrubbing agents made with microbeads.
- Cigarette butts – the filters are made from non-biodegradable plastic that also shed microfibers.
- Glitter – the teenage girl’s fashion accessory and decorative crafts material is usually just washed down the drain, made from PET or PVC. Fortunately there is a biodegradable option made from eucalyptus trees.
- Wet wipes – generally made from polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene that block sewers and do not break down.
- Tea bags – have a polypropylene “skeleton”
- Paint – plastic dust from outdoor paints from road markings, ships, and houses. Better options are paints that use linseed oil or latex as binders
- Takeaway cups have a thin polyethylene inner layer.
Read more here.
Theresa May’s new environment plan sets ambitious goals for plastic waste reduction. But there’s lots of room for slippage. One goal is to eradicate all “avoidable” plastic waste, though it’s not clear how “avoidable” will be defined. A few concrete measures are now in place, such as the 5p plastic bag charge being extended to cover all businesses in England.