Monday, June 8, 2015

Ban the Bead!

On May 22, 2015, the California Assembly passed the world's strongest legislation to ban microbeads. The state would ban not only synthetic particles but the biodegradable plastic as well. Other states - Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, and Maine - have passed similar laws banning microbeads, but leave loopholes for biodegradable plastics.  

Plastic Microbeads 101:
What are Microbeads?: Microbeads are nasty little bits of plastic smaller than 2 millimeters. They are used frequently in personal care products (toothpaste, soaps, cosmetics, etc.) as exfoliates or for added texture.
Examples of amount of plastic in products

Why should I care?: There is no proven benefit of plastic microbeads in personal care products. There are natural exfoliants (that work better), but plastic microbeads are cheaper for manufacturers. Unlike natural alternatives, plastic microbeads ARE NOT biodegradable and are harmful to the environment.
How are they harmful?: Microbeads are literally microns in size and are NOT removed in our wastewater treatment process. Once in the water, microbeads, like other plastics, can absorb persistent toxic chemicals commonly found in waters across the state and can be mistaken for food by small fish and wildlife.  
What can I do?: Avoid products with these ingredients: polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate.
The good news: Several companies - Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, The Body Shop, and L’Oreal – have all made commitments to phase out the use of microbeads in their products. Many states are working on legislation to ban plastic microbeads. Yay!