Last Friday, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved, without modifications, the bill that would ban all types of plastic microbeads smaller than 5 millimetres in size from “rinse off” cosmetics and personal care products – i.e. products that wash down the drain and into water systems such as face wash and toothpaste. This decision came quickly after congress passed the bipartisan Microbead-Free Waters Act earlier this month. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for approval before it becomes legislation.
The bill sensibly recognizes that “biodegradable plastics” are not a safe alternative to conventional plastic microbeads and extends the ban to these types as well. Replacing billions of persistent tiny, plastic microbeads in our personal care products with equally persistent alternatives that will not biodegrade in our cold great lakes ecosystems is not a solution that we can afford to accept. As we highlighted in a recent blog post, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) concluded that “biodegradable” microplastics can only break down completely in industrial composting conditions, under very high temperatures.
Only a few months after its inception, the bill banning microbeads in the U.S. may be days away from becoming national law. On the other hand, Canadians continue to wait on a regulatory decision by the federal government to ban these microplastic pollutants. We urge the federal government to follow suit by taking swift action in implementing a ban on all plastic microbeads from cosmetics and personal care products.
You can sign this petition to demand to improve the federal toxic chemical regulations and to ensure that toxic substances are managed quickly.