TORONTO, ON – Environmental Defence applauds Environment Canada moving forward with the process of banning microbeads with today’s release of the “Proposed Regulations for Microbeads in Personal Care Products Used to Exfoliate or Cleanse” for consultation. Eliminating these pollutants from products the right way will be an important step in protecting Canada’s lakes and rivers and ultimately human health.

Microbeads are harmful and unnecessary additions to personal care products, but some companies have asked for an exception to be made for “biodegradable plastic” microbeads to remain in products. As there is no standard for establishing biodegradability in plastics, any exception would only serve to perpetuate microbead pollution. Environmental Defence will work to ensure that no such loophole will exist for these polluting plastics.

Unfortunately, the proposed definition of microbeads does not include particles larger than 2 mm in size, whereas Environment Canada had originally considered including particles up to 5 mm in size. Environmental Defence supports a stronger stance that would also include larger microplastics in the regulation.

Like other tiny plastic particles (that result from the breakdown of larger plastic litter), microbeads may contain toxic substances such as phthalates and BPA on their surfaces, creating unknown risks as the particles are consumed by fish and birds.

Microbeads can easily be eliminated from body and face washes and replaced with natural ingredients like almond and apricot shells. Several large companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Loblaw have already announced that they will be ending the use of these microplastics. The U.S. recently legislated a phase-out of microbeads by July 1, 2017.

Meanwhile, many other substances deemed toxic by scientists, such as triclosan and certain flame retardants, remain on the market in consumer products. Environment Canada’s move forward with the process of regulating microbeads is encouraging. We hope that the government will also take action to ban toxic substances that are currently backlogged and unaddressed.

Environmental Defence looks forward to working with Environment Canada to protect the health of Canadians and the environment from harmful substances such as microbeads.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Tim Ehlich, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521, ext. 223; 647-468-3641 (cell);