Beauty sample sachets which are “virtually never recycled” and will pollute the planet for centuries should be banned, Joan Bakewell has said.
Free samples given out from the beauty counter might be a treat for customers – but they are headed for landfill, campaigners have warned.
The broadcaster and Liberal Democrat peer joined calls from 40 experts and cross-party politicians to ban non-food sachets, which are currently not included in single-use plastic bans.
Currently the UK’s ban covers plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds. An EU single-use plastics ban, set to come in from next year, also does not include the sachets.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder, of campaign organisation A Plastic Planet, said they had been forgotten by policymakers. “For me it is the most pernicious use of plastic that has become invisible to us. You look around and you notice the amount of little sachets that are everywhere in our lives,” she said.
The sachets are typically valueless, contaminated and impossible to recycle, she said.
The global personal care industry produces 122 billion plastic sachets each year, the group said, and the world is set to get through a trillion by 2030.
Ms Sutherland added: “We’ve seen governments across the world crow about bans on single-use plastics, but the sample sachet is a huge piece of the pollution puzzle which every one of them is missing.
“The hundreds of billions of sample sachets pumped out by the personal and home care industries each year are used to drive instant sales but will pollute the planet for centuries.”
The government said it was considering charges on items including sachets.
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We are introducing new powers which will allow us to tackle any single-use plastic item by introducing charges – and looking at further steps to cut wasteful sachets.”