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Rinse and Repeat: Environmentalists Plan to Ban Microbeads… Again

Rinse and Repeat: Environmentalists Plan to Ban Microbeads… Again

After falling one vote short of passing earlier this year, environmental groups are gearing up again to push a bill in California’s legislature that would ban microbeads from a wide slew of beauty products. 

Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) reportedly introduced the bill in California this past February that, if passed, would have required products containing microbeads to be taken off of shelves by January 1, 2016, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Bloom will reportedly carry a similar bill in 2015. 

“I think we will win this year,” said Stiv Wilson of the Santa Monica-based 5 Gyres Institute, an organization that is committed to eliminating plastic debris in the environment, the Chronicle notes. The group posits that marine life mistake the non-biodegradable mini beads for food, which makes it possible for them to be consumed by others in the food chain, potentially cycling up into human consumption.

Just a few popular products–out of a slew–that would be targeted by legislators for their use of microbeads are Clean & Clear Morning Burst Facial Scrub, Bliss Lemon and Sage Body Scrub, and even Victoria’s Secret’s 2-in-1 Wash and Scrub. 

Manufacturers had turned to these plastic-based microbeads due to their inexpensive and hypoallergenic qualities, which deliver a smooth and deep clean. The Chronicle notes that many consumers have been turning to products that use natural exfoliants such as ground almond shell, polenta and even sugar in their place.

Generally speaking, ground almond and apricot shells are very abrasive and their jagged edges can result in small cuts on the face which could make the skin prone to infections.

The Personal Care Products Council has opposed Bloom’s bill on the basis that it employs an “aggressive and unrealistic” timeline which inhibits manufacturers from being able to find an alternative in a fair amount of time. Illinois lawmakers recently passed legislation to phase microbeads out of products using them in their state, the Chronicle notes. The Land of Lincoln’s more realistic timeline of Dec. 31, 2017 was praised by the Personal Care Products Council.

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have also presented bills in their respective houses in order to ban microbeads from toothpaste with a targeted execution by January of 2018, the Chronicle notes.

Several large companies such as Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal and Colgate-Palmolive have expressed that they will phase the microbeads out of their products and replace them over the course of the next few years. 

Some of the California environmentalists behind the renewed calls for banning microbeads said that Governor Jerry Brown’s statewide plastic bag ban–including a rather sizable tax increase–had drawn the crux of their attention during this last legislative session. Now that it is out of the way, they have reportedly been focusing on microbeads. 

Photo: AP

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz

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