In a press conference yesterday, US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who both represent the Democratic party, conveyed their support for the ban, which may eventually be overshadowed by a Federal ban.
"These tiny pieces of plastic have already caused significant ecological damage to New York’s waterways, and they will continue to do so until they are removed from the marketplace," Gillibrand said.
New York took the lead last year
Back in February of last year Schneiderman had said he wanted to push through a ban on microbeads with speed, aiming to make New York the first state in the country to implement such legislation.
Indeed, back in May of this year Schneiderman was behind a move to launch a pamphlet and accompanying app to help New York consumers avoid buying personal care products that contain plastic microbeads.
In April state assembly passed the bill; and with 34 State Senators already supporting it, the bill has enough votes to gain a comfortable passage, so this latest push is designed to speed up the process and make the legislation final.
In New York state it is estimated that more than 19 tons of microbeads are flushed into waterways every year, which environmentalists say is causing irreparable damage to the eco system as the tiny beads are not biodegradable.
Will federal law eventually usurp state legislation?
The recently passed California bill is said to be the toughest ban on microbeads so far, and is now heading to the senate, where it is expected to undergo a new ballot in the chamber during the summer.
So far legislation has been introduced to ban microbeads in Connecticut, New Jersey and Illinois at some point in the course of the next two years, whereas similar legislation is still be mulled in a long list of other states.
But while state legislators are upping the ante, similar legislative moves are also happening at a federal level.
Representatives Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced federal legislation to ban plastic microbeads from personal care, taking a similar stand to the legislations that have already been passed at a state level.
As the bill gathers momentum in the Washington D.C. legislative process, mounting awareness of the environmental harm microbeads cause, which has resulted from concerted campaigns behind the state legislations, is likely to offer a smoother passage to this federal legislation.
If passed, the federal bill would ban the sale or distribution of cosmetics products containing plastic microbeads throughout the US, effective January 1st, 2018.