The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has announced that it will consider banning microbeads in the country – the tiny plastic beads used in cosmetics, toothpaste and sandblasting.
This follows a Water Research Commission study released at the end of July, which found that substantial amounts of microplastics – bits of plastics less that 5mm in size – were found in the tap water of both Pretoria and Johannesburg.
According to a report by News24, the DEA has now set up a task team of officials from the departments of trade and industry, health and science and technology to examine the possibility of phasing in a microbead ban.
DEA spokesperson Albi Modise said the department had “moved quickly to engage extensively on the possibility of a complete ban of microbeads, particularly the petroleum-based microbeads”.
He added that the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association to get its position on the manufacturing, import 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
Several countries have banned, or plan to ban, the manufacture or importation of toiletries containing microbeads. Those where a ban came into effect in 2018 include Canada, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.