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Foodstuffs ban microbeads one year early

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/06/2017

One year before it's compulsory, supermarket owner Foodstuffs has pledged its stores won't sell products with microbeads from next month.

In an announcement ahead of World Oceans Day on Thursday, Foodstuffs declared New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square would become microbead-free from July 1.

Microbeads are commonly used in products like body scrubs as abrasives but they are not captured by wastewater treatment plants.

The US, Canada, Australia and the UK have similar moves underway, and scientists say microbeads are too small to retrieve or recycle and they don't break down.

Foodstuffs said minimising impact on the environment was a priority issue and banning microbeads was "absolutely the right thing to do".

"The changes we're making will have a positive impact on marine life... That said we know there's more work to be done," North Island chief executive Chris Quinn, said.

In January, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced a proposal to ban the sale and manufacture of personal care products containing the microbeads in New Zealand because of the risk they pose to aquatic and marine environments.

Plastic does not need to be in these products as there are natural alternatives, Associate Professor Mary Sewell from Auckland University says.

"We are behind the rest of the world as many countries have already banned these products."

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