Microbead Ban

The microbead ban has been signed into law and will commence shortly.   


This legislation may be of relevant to your business as microbeads can be using in the following: 

  • contained in any detergent, fabric softener, conditioner, bleaching agent or solvent 

  • used in household and industrial cleaning products where the microbeads act as an abrasive scouring agent  

  • contained in a substance that is used during the preparation for cleaning of any surface, article or material in cosmetic products 

The Act provides for the prohibition on the manufacture or placing on the Irish market of certain products containing microbeads and to impose restrictions in relation to the disposal of substances containing microbeads.  


Please see FAQs below.


What is the Definition used for plastic microbeads in the regulation? 


The definition of a plastic microbead is written in law as a ‘solid plastic particle that is— 


(a) not water soluble, 


(b) not more than 5 millimetres at its widest point, and 


(c) not less than one nanometre at its narrowest point; Where “plastic” means a synthetic polymer that



(a) can be moulded, extruded or physically manipulated into different shapes, and 


(b) that retains its final manufactured shape when used for the purpose for which it was manufactured; 


It is critical each company reviews their ingredients taking into account the definition of a plastic microbead in law as this is specific to capture a solid plastic microbead and not other particles in your product.  The definition will capture the same plastic microbeads which are currently banned in rinse off cosmetics in UK.  


What is the Scope of the Legislation? 


The scope written in the law, medical products and sun screens are exempted.  The scope is as follows: 


(1) A person shall not manufacture or place on the market a cosmetic product that



(a) is water soluble, and 


(b) contains microbeads in excess of the permitted concentration. 


(2) A person shall not manufacture or place on the market a cleaning product that



(a) is water soluble, and 


(b) contains microbeads in excess of the permitted concentration. 


(3) A person who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) shall be guilty of an offence. 


(4) It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence consisting of a contravention of subsection (1) or (2) for the defendant to show that he or she took all measures reasonably necessary to prevent such contravention. 


(5) In this section “permitted concentration” means, in relation to a cosmetic product or cleaning product containing microbeads, a concentration of microbeads that does not result in the aggregate weight of the microbeads in the product exceeding 0.01 per cent of the weight of the product.


What is the interpretation of “water soluble products”? 


Water soluble product would be considered products that can be cleaned using water as a solvent.  It is rinse/wash off product- any product that that requires a wipe or cleaner to be removed is not captured under this Legislation.   We are seeking further written clarification from the authorities and will add it to this Q&A as soon as it is available.     


Do sun protection products fall under this Ban?


Sun protection products are excluded from the scope of the ban. 


Is there a transition period? 


As it stands there is No transition period.  


Disposal of Microbeads? 


It is an offence under the Act to dispose of any substance containing microbeads down the drain or into fresh or aquatic waters of any kind (including ground waters etc). This is subject to the principle of reasonability.  For example,  A similar example might be if you emptied the engine oil out of your car, it is against the law to pour the used engine oil down the drain, but you are allowed to wash your hands if oil gets on them. 


Who is the regulator? 


The Environmental Protection Agency is the primary authority given powers of implementation under the Act, although Customs Agents or Gardaí may have a role as appropriate. 


What if you have a product on the market prior to the 1st January? 


Clarification is being sought from the authorities and the FAQs will be updated as soon as available.


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In this issue
SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition
SFA in the media
Microbead Ban
SFA Taxation Webinar Series
Coronavirus Preparedness
New Accenture Report: Responsible Leadership
Brilliant Basics - Grow your sales
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