News article

Microbeads ban comes into force in Northern Ireland

11 March 2019

The manufacture and sale of rinse-off personal care products containing microbeads is banned in Northern Ireland from 11 March 2019

New legislation has come into force which bans the manufacture and sale of rinse-off personal care products which contains microbeads. This means an effective ban is now in place across the whole of the UK with England, Scotland and Wales having implemented similar legislation in 2018.

Microbeads are small plastic particles used in many cosmetics and personal care products such as face scrubs and toothpastes. These are washed down the drain but are too small to be filtered out in sewage treatment systems and so enter our rivers and seas.

There is emerging evidence that the microbeads or the chemical contaminants they transport can harm marine animals and the wider aquatic environment. Microbeads are being banned to protect the aquatic environment and to reduce the risk and severity of impacts of microplastics, including economic impacts, food security and human health. 

Who is affected by the microbeads ban?
The ban will affect businesses who either manufacture or sell rinse-off personal care products, including (but limited to):

  • shower gels
  • soaps
  • beaded hand cleaners
  • shampoos
  • conditioners
  • shaving gels
  • toothpaste
  • mouthwash
  • teeth whitening products

Enforcement and penalties
The ban is enforced by council Environmental Health Officers on behalf of the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) as part of their consumer protection function.

It is an offence to manufacture or sell products rinse-off personal care products which contains microbeads. The regulations also make failure to provide information an offence. If you commit an offence you could be fined and/or imprisoned. 

More information on the microbeads ban
For more guidance on complying with the new regulations you should contact the Environmental Health section of your local council.