Microbeads scrubbed out at Foodstuffs' supermarkets

Foodstuffs, owner of New World, Pak'nSave and Four Square, has announced products with plastic microbeads won't be stocked from the beginning of July.

The tiny bits of plastic are often popular in facewashes and other beauty products, but they're notoriously bad for the environment.

They're washed down the drains and are too small to get picked up at treatment plants, so end up in the ocean.

Earlier this year, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced products containing microbeads would be banned from July 2018.

On Wednesday, Foodstuffs' North Island chief executive Chris Quin said they've been working with suppliers since 2016 so that they could pull off a microbead ban sooner rather than later.

He called the ban "absolutely the right thing to do".

"We're pleased to say that many suppliers had already reformulated their products substituting the plastic beads with natural ingredients," he said.

"Where brands are unable to meet our needs, we'll delist the products until new formulations are available."

Dr Smith said microbeads have to go because there's no way to recycle them and there's clear evidence it harms waterways, fish and shellfish.

"There is no practical way that a New Zealander can take the microbeads in these products and somehow sieve them out and prevent them from getting into the marine environment," he said in January.

Other countries which are either phasing out or have gotten rid of microbeads include Canada, Ireland, the UK and the US.