UK retailers ban glitter from store brand products this holiday season

Image Credit: Dave Thompson

Three major retailers in the United Kingdom announced they would eliminate glitter from their Christmas merchandise this season. As the movement against glitter brings awareness about microplastics and their impact on the environment and marine life, Morrisons, Waitrose and John Lewis’ store brand holiday products will be glitter-free for 2020.

Glitter, a festive additive and arts-and-crafts staple, is made of plastic (and sometimes metals) that is five millimeters or less in diameter and these microplastics are “everywhere from Arctic ice to the bellies of sharks,” EcoWatch reported.

“Every time a cracker is pulled, or a card is opened, plastics have been used … but just the once,” Christine Bryce, Morrison’s home director, said in a statement. “So, we’ve taken glitter and plastic out of our festive range this year—so that our customers can enjoy their festivities without worrying about the environmental impact. This means that we’re now 100 percent glitter free across all our own brand ranges which is an important step in the fight against plastic pollution.”

Morrison said the company policy “will remain in place through the new year for store brand cards and gift bags,” EcoWatch reported. John Lewis and Waitrose also confirmed in a statement that “cards, crackers, wrapping paper, and gift bags are now 100% glitter-free.”

While scientist haven’t confirm the impact a possible glitter ban would have on the environment, Amy V. Uhrin, chief scientist at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Division, said glitter was only one of many microplastic pollutants negatively affecting the environment.

“It is difficult to say what impact a glitter ban would have,” she said.

Uhrin did say that “certain studies had found large concentrations of glitter in soils or in wastewater sludge,” EcoWatch reported. But overall, it only accounts for much less than 1 percent of the microplastic pollution world-wide.

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