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01-11-2016

USA Ban Microbeads in Cosmetics

President Barack Obama has signed into law a bill banning the sale or distribution of cosmetic products containing plastic microbeads. The bipartisan HR 1321 mandates the phase out to begin on 1 July 2017.

The House and the Senate passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act unanimously. The measure – introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Ranking Member Frank Pallone – also bans the use of biodegradable plastics as an alternative ingredient. Mr Pallone said this was a “loophole that has been discovered in a number of existing state laws."

The new law bans the U.S. manufacture of personal-care products such soaps, body washes, toothpaste and similar products from containing microbeads, which are usually made of polyethylene, as of July 1, 2017, and the sale of products containing microbeads, imported or domestic, as of July 1, 2019. It also defines “microbead” as “any solid plastic particle that is less than 5 millimeters in size.” The Act also preempts state laws that ban or phase out microbeads. Several states and counties, including California, have already passed bans.

Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic, often used as exfoliants in personal care products like face wash and toothpaste. They can slip through water treatment systems when washed down the drain and make their way through water filtration systems. As a result, they often end up in streams, rivers and larger bodies of water. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said the law is an “important step to ensure there is one sensible, national standard to phase out solid-plastic microbeads from rinse-off personal care products across America."

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