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Microbead-Free Waters Act

12 • 28 • 2016

Microbead-Free Waters Act

After several states and localities have acted to pass microbead bans in personal care products like facial scrubs and toothpastes, H.R. 1321, was championed by Congressmen Pallone and Upton to address the issue on a nationwide level. These tiny plastic beads are washed off down the drain, are often not filtered out in wastewater treatment plants, and end up discharged in our waterways, and ocean. Surfrider's Chapter Network, in collaboration with other environmental organizations like 5Gyres and Story of Stuff, successfuly worked to advocate for strong language of this bill that will go into effect starting in 2017.

The Microbead-Free Waters Act will ban the manufacture of microbeads starting in July 2017, followed by a ban on manufacturing over-the-counter drugs and on sales of cosmetics (including toothpastes) with microbeads to start in July 2018. A ban on sales of over-the-counter drugs containing microbeads will begin July 2019.  The bill was championed by New Jersey Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone and Michigan Republican Congressman Fred Upton to phase out the production and sale of tiny bits of plastic called microbeads.  The bipartisan piece of legislation moved quickly through the House of Representatives and the Senate (championed by New York Senator Gillibrand) and went on to the President's desk on December 18th.  President Barack Obama signed the bill that will apply to all 50 states on December 28, 2015.