The ban is set to go in to effect in stages. Manufacturing and importing personal care products that are intended for cleansing and exfoliating and are made with microbeads will be banned as of January 1, 2018.
On July 1, 2018 these products can no longer be sold, or offered for sale, in Canada. On that same date, other personal care products, those considered natural heath products or that don’t function as cleansers or exfoliators but do contain microbeads, will be banned from manufacture.
And finally on July 1, 2019 that last category of products—which includes toothpaste—will be banned from sale.
The federal government’s statement about the proposed regulations on the Canada Gazette site is an extension of the 1999 Canadian Environmental Protection Act and sponsored by the country’s Department of the Environment and Department of Health.
As with micobead bans in other countries, post-consumer environmental damage is the reason Canada is banning the beads. While plastic from many other industries is also detrimental to the environment and the bead bans have been slow to materialize, it’s significant that governments are holding cosmetic and personal care makers and brands responsible for the effects of ingredients beyond sourcing, manufacturing, and consumer use.
“The environmental burden from plastic litter continues to increase globally, raising environmental, economic and aesthetic issues with complex challenges,” notes the government’s statement on the Canada Gazette. “Plastic microbeads used in exfoliating or cleansing toiletries, also commonly referred to as personal care products, are expected to get washed down the drain when used by consumers and to enter wastewater treatment plants. After wastewater treatment, a portion is expected to reach, and accumulate in, ecosystems across Canada….Although voluntary actions have been taken by industry to phase out the use of plastic microbeads in toiletries, there is a risk of reintroduction or continued import of toiletries that contain plastic microbeads in Canada.”
The ban comes as no surprise and the country anticipates that the personal care industry will not suffer financially once it takes effect. “The proposed Regulations are not expected to significantly impact the personal care product sector in Canada, as information provided to the Government in March 2016 suggested that toiletries that do not contain plastic microbeads were already becoming available to consumers in Canada,” reads the cost section of the government’s statement.
Also, “given the availability and the anticipated increasing availability of toiletries that do not contain plastic microbeads — via domestic manufacture and import — the proposed Regulations are not expected to have any impact on consumer choice or the cost of toiletries.”
And retailers are not projected to lose out either: “Given normal inventory turnover cycles and expected timing of the proposed regulatory requirements, no cost to retail businesses is expected related to residual products that could no longer be sold, as a sell through period is allowed. The Department anticipates that this should be sufficient to allow for the sale of products and the elimination of inventory.”