The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust joined a coalition of over 30 Cornish environmental groups and marine science experts to help a successful campaign for an immediate ban on harmful plastic ‘microbeads’ in cosmetics.

The idea was previously rejected, with the government preferring a voluntary phase-out in the industry. However, Environment Minister George Eustace has now said that Britain will follow in the footsteps of countries such as the US and Sweden and impose a ban on the water pollutant as early as next year.


Wildlife Trust Communications Officer Nikki Banfield said: "Joining the Cornwall Plastic Pollution Coalition was an easy decision for us. Our islands' beaches and coastline are littered with plastic marine debris and no matter how many beach cleans we do and how many tons of rubbish we remove we are not tackling the source of the problem.  


"Being such a small organisation it is very hard to be heard in a national, international and global forum but by entering this Cornish collective we have joined with individuals and organisations who together have a louder voice; indeed Cornwall is fast becoming known as a world leader for marine conservation."


She added: "Microbeads and microplastics are in our waters and on our beaches; an example of this is the number of Nurdles that wash up around our coastline daily.  


"Recently I have spent many “happy” hours in the sun collecting Nurdles - I spent half an hour on one beach this weekend alone and collected well over 1000 and there were still plenty more there!"


Microbeads - plastic balls less than 5mm wide - are widely used in toiletries and cosmetics. They give products a “speckled” appearance and are believed to help with exfoliation. 


Thousands of tonnes are washed down the drain and end up in the sea every year. They do not biodegrade and can be mistaken for food, with some studies showing that many animals (from Zooplankton to fish and beyond) will eat them in preference to standard food sources; thus entering the food chain on the lower levels.  


Nikki explained: "In turn this can effect breeding success, life expectancy and ultimately the animals (and humans) further up the food chain; in an island community that relies heavily on our wildlife in terms of tourism and the fishing industry this can only be a bad thing."


More than 300,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban last week.

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