Great news from Queen’s Park yesterday! MPP Marie-France Lalonde introduced a private member’s bill to ban the manufacture and addition of microbeads to products in Ontario. The ban would come into effect within two years of the bill passing.

The proposal is not only overdue but makes a lot of sense. Plastic microbeads are being added to products like body wash and face scrub to exfoliate the skin, and toothpaste to make it sparkle. But they beads are harming our environment, and they are totally unnecessary. There are plenty of great, biodegradable alternatives out there that will do the same thing, including rice, bamboo, and almond husks.

Microbeads are making a not-so-clean mark on our environment. When they are washed down the drain, they are too small to be captured by wastewater treatment plants and flow right into our lakes and waterways. The plastics absorb dangerous toxics that can harm wildlife when they mistake the colourful beads for food.

Momentum to ban microbeads is growing. Illinois has successfully passed a law that bans the manufacture of personal care products containing microbeads by the end 2017 and the sale of those products by the end of 2018. Similar legislation is also being considered by a number of U.S. states including: Michigan, New York, and Indiana. As well, some major cosmetics producers have pledged to voluntarily phase-out the tiny plastic balls, including Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble.

If this bill is passed, Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in Canada to ban the beads. The law would also enhance monitoring efforts by requiring that the government analyze Great Lakes’ water samples for the presence of microbeads. An education and awareness program would be created, and anyone violating the law could be fined up to $10,000.

Microbeads need to be banned across the country to protect all our waterways and wildlife. You can help by writing a letter to Glen Murray, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, to ask for his support in helping to get the bill passed.

To learn about other ways you can help and to monitor progress on banning microbeads, please sign up for our Water Update e-newsletter.