China and Canada have jointly pledged to reduce use of microbeads in beauty and personal care products, following a meeting between Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
The meeting took place at the 33rd ASEAN Summit held in Singapore.
After, the countries jointly released a statement on marine litter and plastics, explicitly stating the intention to “Reduce the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetic and personal care consumer products and address other sources of micro-plastics.”
Commitments to deal with marine waste and single use plastics were also noted.
Previously, Li and Trudeau met in December 2017 and released another joint statement that affirmed their partnership and commitment to taking action on climate change.
End of microbeads
According to the statement, both countries are committed managing the use of plastics as its leaders recognise that current practices have a negative effect on the environment and human health.
“On the occasion of the third annual dialogue between [Trudeau and Li]… Both leaders recognized the importance of taking a sustainable lifecycle approach to the management of plastics to reduce the threat to the environment and, particularly, to reduce marine litter in ocean.”
According to Hedy He of Chemlinked, there is a real possibility that China will follow through on the decision to ban the use of microbeads, and it has been actively reducing the use of microbeads already.
She added that China views plastic microbeads as a dangerous pollutants to their environment, as such, are serious about the issue.“Plastic microbeads are small in size and easily flow into rivers, lakes or seas after use, then eaten by fish, causing serious ecological hazards. In order to protect the ecological environment, China will gradually reduce the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics.
“Because microbeads are not used in large quantities in China, it is expected that zero microbeads consumption may be basically achieved before the introduction of relevant laws and regulations in China,” said He.
China’s effort to curb microbeads
Since 2007, China has started routine monitoring of marine garbage including plastic waste. In 2016, it started routine monitoring of offshore micro-plastics and began monitored Arctic and Eastern Pacific micro-plastics in 2017.
Additionally, China invested $2.3m in a national key research and development project “Marine Micro-plastics Monitoring and Ecological Environment Effect Assessment Technology Research”.
In 2017, it also established the Marine Waste and Micro-plastics Research Center which conducts research on technologies, methods and management countermeasures related to marine waste and micro-plastics supervision.
“All of the above show that China has paid great attention to marine micro-plastic pollution and carried out actions. Regulations related to microbeads restriction are formulating but the release time is not determined,” said He.
Countries sign MOU
Early this month, China and Canada signed a memorandum of agreement (MOU) on climate change cooperation on November 1.
The talks were held in Beijing and attended by China’s Minister of Ecology and Environment, Li Ganjie and Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna.
The leaders of the two countries, said Li, have attached great importance to the climate change issue. He noted that ecology and environmental issues are some of the major areas of bilateral cooperation between China and Canada.
China, he said, has been working to better climate policies, strategies and governance systems over the past few year.
For example, he said, China has made “steady progress” in developing the carbon emission right trading markets, and has introduced the GHG control as one of the indicators for the performance evaluation of provincial governments.
The statement assured that China remains committed to adopting strong climate change measures to make sure it meets the “action goals”.