Illinois has become the first state to ban “microbeads”, but certainly will not be the last. As major companies seek alternatives to using microbeads in products, other states and Congress have begun the paperwork to ban them. So what are these microbeads, and why is a ban necessary? The answers may surprise you, and may have you refusing to eat fish products.
What are microbeads?
Have you ever used a soap that had those cool looking beads floating in the liquid, claiming to exfoliate your skin? Or maybe you’ve seen them in your face wash, or toothpaste. Those little pellets are called microbeads and are made up of plastic. While they may seem harmless, researchers are telling a different story.
Why ban microbeads?
With Illinois passing the ban of microbeads, many are wondering why? In 2012 and 2013, scientists raked a specially designed net across all five of the Great Lakes. What they found was astonishing. Barely visible to the naked eye, researchers found little bits of plastic, also known as mircobeads, everywhere. They realized that the plastic particles were so small they were slipping through the wastewater treatment plants without being filtered out. The discovered it was a serious problem once they began finding the plastic in the Great Lakes fish that people consume. They also found the plastic beads in birds that eat fish.
Other states considering a ban
The three other states that are actively pursuing a microbead ban are California, New York, and Ohio. On a larger scale, U.S. Representative and New Jersey democrat, Frank Pallone Jr., has introduced a bill that would ban microbeads for the entire country. The bill would take effect in 2018 if passed.
Large companies seek “microbead” solutions
With scientists finding compelling evidence for a ban on microbeads, major companies like Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, Proctor & Gamble, and Colgate are choosing to find alternatives instead of fighting the ban. Right now they are looking at alternatives such as ground fruit pits, oatmeal, and salt. Fortunately for the companies, they have plenty of time to concoct a mixture ready for the market considering the microbead bans won’t take effect for many years. Illinois’ ban doesn’t completely phase out the plastics until 2019. The only bill that would take place sooner would be New York’s measure that would ban microbeads in the majority of cosmetics by 2016.