Quantcast

UN Scientists Call for Action on Marine Microplastics as New York Assembly Passes Microbeads Ban

New York may become the next state to ban microbeads. Last week, the New York Assembly passed a bill, the Microbeads-Free Waters Act, which would "prohibit the sale of personal cosmetic products containing microbeads." The bill passed by an overwhelming majority of 139 to 1.

Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic put in consumer products such as toothpastes and facial scrubs that often pass through wastewater treatment facilities and eventually pollute our waterways. Photo credit: Wikipedia

The bill would prohibit the sale of personal cosmetic products containing synthetic plastic microbeads after January 1, 2016, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Over-the-counter drugs that fall under the definition of personal cosmetic products would receive an additional year to comply and prescription drugs are exempt.

The bill has now moved to the state Senate, but it has stalled there. The Senate bill's sponsor, Sen. Thomas O'Mara, advanced a different bill in committee "that fundamentally fails to address the microbeads problem," says the NRDC. Not only would the Senate bill's version take longer to go into effect, but it exempts some types of plastic and "biodegradable" microbeads, which aren't truly biodegradable. The bill also forbids municipalities, counties and local governments from taking further action to stop this form of water pollution, says the NRDC.

Dr. Marcus Eriksen of 5 Gyres agrees. "When we found microbeads in the Great Lakes, we knew that this had to change and that we couldn't replace plastic microbeads with the so called 'biodegradable' microbeads, which is exactly what the Personal Care Products Council is pushing the New York Senate to do. It will not solve the problem."

"Instead any alternative biodegradable plastic must degrade before it enters an aquatic environment. The best is to use a natural biodegradable material or any material that is benign to the environment, like salt, sand, cocoa beans or apricot husks, which are already successfully used in products. So the switch is easy."

As New York's state legislature waivers on addressing the problem, a group of scientists that advise the UN are calling for action on marine microplasticsaccording to The Guardian. The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) recently released their report, Sources, Fates and Effects of Microplastics in the Marine Environment: A Global Assessment.

“Even tiny particles, such as those used in cosmetic products or abrasives, could potentially harm marine life if ingested. We need to work globally to ensure that plastics do not end up in the oceans,” Dr. Micallef, director of Marine Environment Division, at the International Maritime Organization, the Administrative Secretary of GESAMP told Marine Technology News.

The report recommends "better control of the sources of plastic waste, through applying the principles of the '3 Rs' (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle), and improving the overall management of plastics as the most efficient and cost-effective way of reducing the quantity of plastic objects and microplastic particles accumulating in the ocean," says Marine Technology News.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

4 States Working to Ban Microbeads

20 Year Old Claims He Can Rid the World's Oceans of Plastic

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate) is a beloved holiday favorite. PETA

8 Festive Vegan Drinks to Keep You Cozy This Winter

By Zachary Toliver

Looking for warm vegan holiday drinks to help you deal with the short days and cold weather? This time of year, we could all use a steamy cup of cheer during the holiday chaos. Have a festive, cozy winter with these delicious options. (Note that you must be 21 to enjoy some of the recipes.)

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Pexels

For a Happier, Healthier World, Live Modestly

By Marlene Cimons

Gibran Vita makes every effort to get rid of the dispensable. He lives in a small home and wears extra layers indoors to cut his heating bills. He eats and drinks in moderation. He spends his leisure time in "contemplation," volunteering or working on art projects. "I like to think more like a gatherer, that is, 'what do I have?' instead of 'what do I want?'" he said.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
An underwater marker in front of Cortada's studio helps predict how many feet of water needs to rise before the area becomes submerged. Xavier Cortada

As Miami Battles Sea-Level Rise, This Artist Makes Waves With His 'Underwater Homeowners Association'

By Patrick Rogers

Miami artist Xavier Cortada lives in a house that stands at six feet above sea level. The Episcopal church down the road is 11 feet above the waterline, and the home of his neighbor, a dentist, has an elevation of 13 feet. If what climate scientists predict about rising sea levels comes true, the Atlantic Ocean could rise two to three feet by the time Cortada pays off his 30-year mortgage. As the polar ice caps melt, the sea is inching ever closer to the land he hopes one day to pass on to the next generation, in the city he has called home since the age of three.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
GMVozd / E+ / Getty Images

How to Ferment Vegetables in Three Easy Steps

By Brian Barth

A mason jar packed with cultured or fermented vegetables at your local urban provisions shop will likely set you back $10 to $15. Given that the time and materials involved are no more than five minutes and $2, respectively, one imagines that the makers of cultured vegetables have spent eight years training with fermentation masters in some stone-age village, or that they've mortgaged their house to pay for high-end fermenting equipment to ensure that the dilly beans come out tasting properly pickled.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Orangutan in Sumatra. Tbachner / Wikimedia Commons

Norway to Ban Deforestation-Linked Palm Oil Biofuels in Historic Vote

The Norwegian parliament voted this week to make Norway the world's first country to bar its biofuel industry from importing deforestation-linked palm oil starting in 2020, The Independent reported.

Environmentalists celebrated the move as a victory for rainforests, the climate and endangered species such as orangutans that have lost their habitats due to palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia. It also sets a major precedent for other nations.

Keep reading... Show less
Oceans
Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Steve Parish/ Lock the Gate Alliance / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Scientists Discover 'Most Diverse Coral Site' on Great Barrier Reef

Australian scientists have found the "most diverse coral site" on the Great Barrier Reef, observing at least 195 different species of corals in space no longer than 500 meters, The Guardian reported.

The non-profit organization Great Barrier Reef Legacy and marine scientist Charlie Veron, a world expert on coral reefs, confirmed the diversity of the site, also known as the "Legacy Super Site" on the outer reef.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Renewable Energy
Buses head out at the Denver Public Schools Hilltop Terminal Nov. 10, 2017. Andy Cross / The Denver Post via Getty Images

Why Aren't School Buses Electric? These Coloradans Are Sick of Diesel

By Corey Binns

Before her two kids returned to school at the end of last summer, Lorena Osorio stood before the Westminster, Colorado, school board and gave heartfelt testimony about raising her asthmatic son, now a student at the local high school. "My son was only three years old when he first suffered from asthma," she said. Like most kids, he rode a diesel school bus. Some afternoons he arrived home struggling to breathe.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
jessicahyde / iStock / Getty Images

Hemp May Soon Be Federally Legal, But Many Will Be Barred From Growing It

By Dan Nosowitz

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has, perhaps unexpectedly to those who find themselves agreeing with only this one position of his, been a major force for legalizing industrial hemp. Industrial hemp differs from marijuana in that it's bred specifically to have extremely low concentrations of THC, the primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana; smoke industrial hemp all you want, it'll just give you sore lungs.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!