Michigan Lawmakers Considering Ban On Products That Contain Microbeads

Although there’s yet to be a successful bill that bans plastic microbeads in beauty products nationwide, individual states are continuing to pile onto the bead-free bandwagon: soon after California passed legislation that prohibits the tiny plastic bits in consumer products, lawmakers in Michigan’s House are trying to push a similar bill, amid environmental concerns.

The tiny plastic particles are often used in products to help scrub anything from your teeth to your skin. But all those millions of beads end up in lakes, oceans and rivers, where they can then be eaten by fish. Ostensibly, you could catch a fish and eat the microbead that once exfoliated your skin in a body wash. By the time it gets to you, that bead could’ve picked up toxic contaminants.

There have been large amounts of microbeads showing up in lakes Erie, Huron and Superior, prompting the Michigan House of Representatives to consider a ban, reports the Detroit Free Press.

“The Great Lakes are too important to the people of the state of Michigan to continue a practice that could have such an adverse impact,” Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Deputy Director Maggie Pallone told the Michigan House Natural Resources Committee last week. “It’s a clear issue and clear threat to the fish in the Great Lakes.”

Sponsors of the bill in Michigan are pushing to get a law in place so that by the time the industry puts a voluntary ban in place, it’ll be mandatory anyway. A vote could come on the bill after lawmakers look at the concerns presented at the hearing, said state Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, the committee chairwoman.

Other Great Lakes states have already passed bans — Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana — that will see microbead products phased out of beauty products sold in those states by 2018. Along with California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland and New Jersey also have bans going into effect in the coming years.

It isn’t just an issue for state governments and activists: several major manufacturers, such as Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and have pledged to phase out use of plastic microbeads.

Colgate-Palmolive has already discontinued using microbeads in all its products, telling Consumerist in a statement:

“Some groups have raised concerns regarding the potential contribution of microbeads to pollution of the world’s oceans. Recognizing that consumers have questions, as of year-end 2014 we are no longer using this ingredient.”

In February 2014, L’Oréal said it would begin phasing out the materials this year in their Biotherm products and continue with Body Shop products in 2015. All of the company’s products are expected to be microbead-free by 2017.

Michigan House looks to ban products with microbeads [Detroit Free Press]

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