The retailer has pledged that all such products will be removed from store shelves across the US by mid-February 2016, ahead of a mooted Federal ban.
The company says it has communicated with all suppliers it deals with that formulate products with the plastic microbeads such as face washes, body scrubs and toothpastes.
The time is right for Wegmans
“We feel this is the right thing to do for the communities we serve,” said Mary Ellen Burris, Wegmans senior vice-president of consumer affairs in a press statement confirming the decision.
“It falls under our sustainability mission to make responsible decisions that positively impact people, business and the environment.”
The retailer says that it has already conducted an in-house inventory which has confirmed that at present no Wegmans branded products contain the microbeads, indicating that the removal will only involve national brands.
Inventory reveals national brands as the culprits
Further to this, the retailer’s quality assurance department also confirmed that the personal care products containing the microbeads account for a small fraction of the total beauty and personal care inventory.
While some products may be reformulated quickly, certain skin care formulas may take up to a year, according to Jessi Chichelli, a Wegmans category merchant who oversees health and beauty products.
“We know customers are loyal to their skincare products, so we want to help them during this transition. We’re also seeing a lot of growth in natural skincare lines as customers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact from what they put on and in their bodies.” Chichelli said.
Federal ban on microbeads on the way
Wegmans is reacting to both State and Federal legislation that is progressing towards a total ban on microbeads use in personal care products within the next two years due to the pollution the beads create in waterways throughout the nation.
In early December last year the House of Representatives voted on a bill that aims to impose a national ban on the use of plastic microbeads in personal care products. That bill was approved by the Senate on the 20th of December and signed by the President on the 28th.
The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 will establish a date after which microbeads cannot be manufactured with January 1st, 2018 mooted as the date products formulated with microbeads will no longer be sold in the States.