Does the current rash of legislation spell the end for microbeads?

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Does the current rash of legislation spell the end for microbeads?
Legislative moves to ban microbeads in personal care formulations in the states of Illinois, California and New York look set to make this environmentally toxic ingredient a thing of the past.

Last month Illinois became the second state to put in motion a ban on microbeads in personal care formulations, by using scientific data to provr that lakes and waterways in the state were being polluted by the tiny beads of plastic, which are not biodegradeable.

State law now proposes that no personal care product containing microbeads can sold beyond 2018, with a complete ban by 2019.

But it has been the New York Assembly that has led the way, after it passed legislation for the state of New York back in May that proposes a phase-out dead-line of 2015.

Time to take action

Action by these States is forcing many companies that deal with this type of ingredient to commence phase-out programs, in an effort to keep up with the pace of the legislation reforms.

“Many companies have already issued formal commitments to phasing out microbeads in light of the evidence that the microbeads build up in the water where they can absorb other harmful toxins such as DDT and PCBs, and be eaten by fish and other animals,”​ said Angela Diesch, attorney at Greenberg Taurig.

But once action is taken at a federal level this will most likely be the biggest wake-up call, as nationwide regulation will leave no exceptions or wriggle room.

State initiatives lead to federal action

Indeed, it now looks like the initiatives at the state legislative level will almost certainly spell an end to the use of microbeads after the U.S. House of Representatives took up the issue last month.

Following the Illinois, California and New York actions, the House Representatives has now introduced a bill that proposes a complete ban on the sale of synthetic microbeads by the end of 2018.

Building on the legal action taken in the three states, the bill being tabled by the House of Representatives points to the mounting evidence that microbeads is causing pollution in waterways not just in individual states, but throughout the country.

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