Eoghan Murphy, T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, today (1 November 2018) published the General Scheme of a Bill to Prohibit Certain Products Containing Plastic Microbeads.
The drafting of a Bill entitled “The Prohibition of Certain Plastic Microbeads Containing Plastic Microbeads Bill 2018” has been approved by Government on the basis of a general scheme.
The Bill will provide for a prohibition of the manufacture, import, export, sale, supply or exposure for sale of certain products containing plastic microbeads, to include “rinse-off” personal care products, detergents, and domestic and industrial abrasive cleaning products and scouring agents.
The Minister said "I am increasingly concerned about the potential risk posed to our aquatic ecosystems by microplastic litter, including plastic microbeads. I know this concern is shared widely, across all parties in the Oireachtas and throughout broader society. While this is an important step, it is only one of many measures we will have to introduce over the coming years to reduce the level of marine litter entering our seas and oceans. I want to thank the Riptide Movement for all the work they have been doing in recent months to create awareness around the pollution of our seas. I also want to thank my colleague Deputy Hildegarde Naughton and the Labour Party and the Green Party for all the work they have done in this area."
While plastic microbeads represent only a fraction of the microplastics in our oceans, it is estimated that many billions are being washed down the drain and into the world’s rivers, lakes and seas each year. Once in our rivers and seas, they can last for centuries without breaking down. They may be ingested by aquatic animals and they cannot be removed once they are in the marine environment.
The Minister intends to introduce this legislation to the Oireachtas before the end of the year. However, derogation will need to be sought from EU single market rules on environmental grounds before such prohibition comes into force.
Commenting on the Bill, Minister Murphy went on to say that, “While several States legislated to prohibit personal care products containing plastic microbeads Ireland will be the first EU Member State to extend such prohibition to detergents, abrasive scouring agents and other cleaning products."
In addition to introducing national legislation, the Minister will continue to campaign for the introduction of a similar EU-wide prohibition at the earliest opportunity as set out in the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy adopted in January 2018.
The General Scheme and draft Regulatory Impact Assessment will be made available to the public on the Department’s website www.housing.gov.ie