The Government will ban the sale and manufacture of plastic microbeads, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

The ban follows through on the plans of the previous Government, which had indicated a ban would be introduced and take effect by May 2018, and Ardern acknowledged this work in her post-cabinet press conference this afternoon.

Cabinet approved regulation to ban microbeads today. It will come into force in six months.

Microbeads are considered a menace to aquatic and marine environments as they can pass through filter systems. They are too small to retrieve or recycle, do not biodegrade, and marine life eat them causing long-term damage.


It is estimated about 10,000 tonnes of plastic microbeads are used globally each year, usually for exfoliation or polishing purposes. About 100 personal care products in New Zealand contain the tiny plastic beads.

The previous Government went through a consultation process in January this year to ban microbeads from personal beauty products, as well as cleaning products for the household or car. Over 16,000 submissions to the process all supported a ban, with many asking the Government to broaden the scope of the ban.

In response the previous Government committed to extending the ban to include washing products for visual appearance, exfoliating, cleansing or abrasive cleaning purposes that contain plastic microbeads.

As well as personal care products, this includes household, car and other cleaning products.

Retailers have already taken steps to take microbeads off shop shelves., including New World, Pak'n Save and Four Square stores, while Foodstuffs and Countdown had already removed the beads from their own brand products.