Federal government makes headway on microbead ban

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Federal government makes headway on microbead ban

Related tags United states house of representatives

Monday, the House of Representatives voted on a bill to impose a national ban against using the plastic ingredient in cosmetics and personal care product formulations. The Senate has yet to formally weigh in on microbeads.

It’s the post-consumer impact that is at issue here. “Simply put, microbeads are causing mega-problems,” ​says Fred Upton, Michigan’s Republican Representative and the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman.

Adding that "Once they’re flushed down the drain, that’s when the problem really begins," ​as Lydia Wheeler and Cristina Marcos report in their item about the vote for thehill.com.


In a voice vote, House lawmakers voted in favor of banning plastic microbeads in beauty products. New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone Jr. introduced the bill this year as an antipollution initiative. "We must put a stop to this unnecessary and avoidable pollution," ​saysPallone, who is also the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The downstream pollution resulting from microbeads has been the most successful driver of bead bans all along. “These microbeads are tiny plastic, but make for big-time pollution,” ​Upton is quoted as saying by the Detroit Free Press. "As someone who grew up on Lake Michigan and represents a large chunk of Michigan coastline, I understand firsthand how important it is to maintain the beauty and integrity of our Great Lakes."


If made law, the legislation would cover all products considered to be “non-prescription, rinse off cosmetics,” ​as Wheeler and Marcos report.

The Senate will now consider the bill, which would prohibit microbead manufacturing starting in 2017.  It would in additionally, as the Detroit Free Press notes, “stop their use in cosmetics and over-the-counter drugs in 2018 and 2019, respectively.”


Research, corporate policy changes, and state laws continue to mount as evidence that a total ban is the only way forward for the US on this issue. State and local governments that have (or have made plans to) impose local bans include Washington DC, Connecticut, California, and New York.

And seeing the market opportunity, several manufactures have launched alternative scouring ingredients. “All leading manufacturers of cosmetics and body care products are currently working to replace abrasive microplastics particles,” ​said Andreas Fischer, late last year when the company announced two silica-based bead substitutes. Fischer heads up the silica business line of Evonik’s resource efficiency segment.

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