The UK Government has enforced a ban on microbeads in an attempt to reduce plastics entering oceans.

First confirmed in July 2017, the ban prevents cosmetics manufacturers including microbeads in new products.

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic used in different cosmetic products such as face scrubs, toothpastes and shower gels.

The UK Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “The world’s seas and oceans are some of our most valuable natural assets and I am determined we act now to tackle the plastic that devastates our precious marine life.

"Microbeads are entirely unnecessary when there are so many natural alternatives available."

“Microbeads are entirely unnecessary when there are so many natural alternatives available, and I am delighted that from today cosmetics manufacturers will no longer be able to add this harmful plastic to their rinse-off products.”

The microbeads ban adds to current government efforts to reduce plastic pollution. It follows the success of the 5p charge on plastic bags introduced in October 2015.

The announcement was welcomed by campaigners who hailed the ban as one of the toughest in the world on the issue.

Fauna & Flora International Marine Plastics projects manager Dilyana Mihaylova said: “Fauna & Flora International has been working to address the issue of plastic microbead pollution since 2009, and we are delighted that the government took such a clear stand on this issue and that a robust UK microbeads ban comes into force today.

“We hope this ban signals the dawn of a new era in the fight for cleaner, healthier oceans, with the UK leading the way and supporting other countries to ensure that plastic will no longer reach the environment.”

A ban on the sale of existing products containing microbeads will be enforced later this year.