University PhD student Matt Turley, who is researching the problem, said: “Microplastics do not biodegrade, and so they accumulate in the marine environment and are extremely costly and difficult, if not impossible, to clean up. A ban on the use of microplastics in personal care products in the UK is a step in the right direction to reducing further inputs of plastic to the marine environment and to begin to address the wider problems of marine plastic pollution.
“Globally, approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic are manufactured annually. In a single year, the amount of plastic pollution entering the oceans has been estimated at between 4.8 million tonnes and 12.7 million tonnes, and around 80 per cent of this is thought to be introduced through land-based activities.
“Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic less than 5mm. Despite their small size, these microplastics have been identified as a significant form of pollution with the potential to impact marine animals and the wider ecosystem. Their sources are numerous and include particles that arise following the physical and chemical breakdown of larger pieces of plastic debris, industrial spillages and products, as well as household items such as synthetic clothing or personal care products.