Plastic microbeads ban

Government regulations banning plastic microbeads took effect on 7 June 2018.

View the regulations on the New Zealand Legislation website.

The regulations were notified in the NZ Gazette on 7 December 2017.

What products are affected?

The regulations prohibit, under section 23 of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, the sale and manufacture of wash-off products that contain plastic microbeads for the purposes of exfoliation, cleaning, abrasive cleaning or visual appearance of the product. 

The intent is to capture two types of microbead-containing products.

  • Wash-off cosmetics such as facial and body exfoliants, toothpastes and heavy-duty hand cleansers
  • Abrasive cleaning products, including household, car or industrial cleaning products.

Reason for the ban

The reason for the ban is to prevent plastic microbeads, which are non-biodegradable, entering our marine environment. They can harm both marine life and life higher on the food chain including humans.

The decision follows public consultation. A total of 16,223 submissions were received. All the submissions either supported the proposed ban or supported it in part. None were opposed.

Summary of submissions

What the ban means for you

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has published information on what the ban means for manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and the public. See Microbeads ban: is your product affected? [EPA website]

Find out more

Cabinet paper: Prohibiting the sale and manufacture of wash-off products containing plastic microbeads

Regulatory Impact Statement: Wash-off products containing microbeads