The plastics industry says it supports a new law that phases out plastic microbeads starting in 2017.
US President Barack Obama last week signed the law, which bans personal-care products from containing microbeads and aims to help remove plastic pollution from water supplies.
The law defines microbeads as “any solid plastic particle that is less than 5 millimeters in size,” and prohibits soaps, body washes, toothpaste and other personal-care products from containing the traditional plastic or bioplastic beads as of July 1, 2017. The law also prohibits the sale of products containing microbeads as of July 1, 2019.
Nine states have already passed microbead laws but the new federal ban is stricter — and a welcome standard, according to the American Chemistry Council, which called the law a “sensible, national standard to phase out solid-plastic microbeads from rinse-off personal care products across America.”
In a statement, the trade organization said: “We commend leaders in Congress and the president for working together on the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. This new law reflects national product stewardship efforts by the personal care industry to phase out the use of solid plastic microbeads used in personal care exfoliating products.”
In 2013, a study by environmental group 5 Gyres found microbeads — likely from personal-care products — are polluting the Great Lakes. The nonprofit presented this evidence to Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, The Body Shop, Colgate-Palmolive and Unilever, prompting the brands to phase out the use of these tiny plastic beads.
Other companies follow suit such as Adidas, which pledged to end the use of plastic microbeads across all its body care products by Dec. 31, 2015.