Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

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

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

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.

Kaavan in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept. 4, 2020. Arne Immanuel Bänsch / picture alliance via Getty Images

With help from music icon Cher, the "world's loneliest elephant" has found a new home and, hopefully, a new family.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate change is causing leaves to change color and fall earlier in the year. Pxfuel

By Philip James

As the days shorten and temperatures drop in the northern hemisphere, leaves begin to turn. We can enjoy glorious autumnal colors while the leaves are still on the trees and, later, kicking through a red, brown and gold carpet when out walking.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Kevin Russ / Moment / Getty Images

By Kang-Chun Cheng

Modoc County lies in the far northeast corner of California, and most of its 10,000 residents rely on cattle herding, logging, or government jobs for employment. Rodeos and 4-H programs fill most families' calendars; massive belt buckles, blue jeans, and cowboy hats are common attire. Modoc's niche brand of American individualism stems from a free-spirited cowboy culture that imbues the local ranching conflict with wild horses.

Read More Show Less
Christian Aslund / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Anne-Sophie Brändlin

COVID-19 and climate change have been two of the most pressing issues in 2020.

Read More Show Less
Artist's impression of an Othalo community, imagined by architect Julien De Smedt. Othalo

By Victoria Masterson

Using one of the world's problems to solve another is the philosophy behind a Norwegian start-up's mission to develop affordable housing from 100% recycled plastic.

Read More Show Less