I am pleased that a ban on the use of microbeads in rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products is now in force, regardless of whether they are used as exfoliants, cleansers or otherwise.
As well as this, following an open consultation, a ban on the supply of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds came into force on 1st October 2020. The ban includes exemptions to ensure that those with medical needs or a disability are able to continue to access plastic straws. I am also pleased to have stood on a manifesto in the last election which committed to introducing a deposit return scheme to incentivise people to recycle plastic and glass drinks containers. Ministers have now consulted on how a future scheme can be designed in the best and most coherent way possible to deliver on the objectives set out for introducing such a policy, and I look forward to seeing the Government's response to this consultation in due course. These measures should lessen the potential for material to become microplastic in the long term.
A study undertaken by the University of Plymouth to test the effectiveness of a number of prototype washing machine filters on their ability to reduce the volume of microfiber plastics reaching our oceans is a welcome contribution to ongoing research currently underway to address marine plastic pollution and the impact of human activities on marine life. Its findings provide useful insights to what is and is not effective in tackling this form of plastic pollution and it is one that is being kept under close review.
Finally, I believe it is important that global action is taken on this issue. I am therefore pleased that my Ministerial colleagues are driving forward ambitious action to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean through the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, supported by up to £70 million of funding to support developing countries to stop plastic waste from entering the ocean in the first place.