Amazingly, Congress has passed important environmental legislation that could easily have flown under the radar.
Last week, the Senate unanimously passed The Microbead Free Waters Act, banning the sale of products that contain these tiny plastic particles on July 1 2018. Manufacturers must stop producing these products a year ahead of that.
An incredible 1.4 trillion plastic microbeads enter US waterways every year after being washed down the drain by people using personal care products. One tube of exfoliating facewash, for example, can contain more than 350,000 microbeads, and they are found in products from toothpaste to soap and cosmetics (not in organic products).
Too small to be caught by wastewater treatment plants, they are barely visible without a microscope. They go directly into waterways, where they are becoming ubiquitous in our lakes, rivers and oceans. Pesticides, flame retardants and other chemicals adhere to them, concentrating these toxins in marine life and then, the rest of the food chain – including humans.
“This is a huge and important step toward protecting fish, birds and other ocean wildlife from plastic pollution,” says Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Natural alternatives are readily available and some of the biggest manufacturers are already halting production: Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, The Body Shop and Colgate-Palmolive. You can identify them by looking for “microbeads,” “polyethelene,” or “polypropylene” on the label.
The House passed the bill earlier this month and it now goes to President Obama for his signature.
Read our article, Plastic Microbeads Hidden In Your Soap or Toothpaste?