Quantcast

New York and California Introduce Legislation to Ban Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics

Insights + Opinion

Design matters more than recycling. Microbeads don’t make the cut, designed to wash down the drain into your local waterway. They are irrecoverable and therefore never recycled.

Microbeads, those little polyethylene scrubbers in facial cleansers, are now on the way out thanks to the one-two legislative punch. The New York state district attorney’s office proposed a bill to ban microplastics in cosmetics, followed by the same bill introduced to the California legislature a few days later by Assemblyman Richard Bloom. These two markets, if lost, will drive producers to reconsider putting microbeads in future products.

The 5 Gyres Institute led the legislative front. “We’re about doing the research to back up our campaigns,” said Executive Director Anna Cummins. Surveys of the Great Lakes in 2012 and 2013, in collaboration with SUNY Fredonia aboard the Flagship Niagara, found microbeads in the five Great Lakes.

Presumably the 1/3 mm beads come from poor waste treatment, either using sieves too large to capture microplastics, combined sewage overflow pumping raw sewage into the lakes on heavy rain days or using treated solids full of plastic as fertilizer on public lands. One or all of these three sources are responsible for hundreds of microplastics floating from our cities.

“Legislation levels the playing field,” said Stiv Wilson of 5 Gyres. The ball began rolling early last year with another organization in Europe called the Plastic Soup Foundation campaigned heavily resulting in the company Unilever banning microbeads in their products by 2015.

“After our research teams found the first evidence of microbeads in the environment, we felt confident to launch our campaign,” said Cummins. Soon Proctor and Gamble and Johnson & Johnson began making noise about phasing out microbeads on a multi-year time line.

Despite these voluntary efforts, we pressed for legislation. We’re confident is will pass.

Visit EcoWatch’s WATER page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

California Condor at soaring at the Grand Canyon. Pavliha / iStock / Getty Images

North America's largest bird passed an important milestone this spring when the 1,000th California condor chick hatched since recovery efforts began, NPR reported Sunday.

Read More Show Less
The Roloway monkey has been pushed closer to extinction. Sonja Wolters / WAPCA / IUCN

The statistics around threatened species are looking grim. A new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added more than 9,000 new additions to its Red List of threatened species, pushing the total number of species on the list to more than 105,000 for the first time, according to the Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Golde Wallingford submitted this photo of "Pure Joy" to EcoWatch's first photo contest. Golde Wallingford

EcoWatch is pleased to announce our third photo contest!

Read More Show Less
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP / Getty Images

The campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump has found a new way to troll liberals and sea turtles.

Read More Show Less
Night long exposure photograph of wildifires in Santa Clarita, California. FrozenShutter / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristy Dahl

Last week, UCS released Killer Heat, a report analyzing how the frequency of days with a dangerously hot heat index — the combination of temperature and humidity the National Weather Service calls the "feels like" temperature — will change in response to the global emissions choices we make in the coming decades.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A Zara store in Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Timahaowemi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Green is the new black at Zara.

The Spanish fast fashion behemoth has made a bold move to steer its industry to a more environmentally friendly future for textiles. Inditex, Zara's parent company, announced that all the polyester, cotton and linen it uses will be sustainably produced by 2025, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Whether you enjoy running recreationally, competitively, or as part of your overall wellness goals, it's a great way to improve your heart health.

Read More Show Less
Text from the plaque that will mark the site where Ok glacier once was. Rice University

By Andrea Germanos

A climate change victim in Iceland is set to be memorialized with a monument that underscores the urgent crisis.

Read More Show Less