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BREAKING: Bipartisan Bill to #BanTheBead Now Law

Dec 28, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – President Obama today signed into law H.R. 1321, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which was introduced earlier this year by Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). The bipartisan legislation would begin the phase out of plastic microbeads from personal care products on July 1, 2017. H.R. 1321 cleared the Energy and Commerce Committee in November, passed the House on December 7, and passed the Senate on December 18.

“It’s a banner day for Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes - We now have a bipartisan law on the books to cleanse pesky microbeads from all our nation’s waters,” said Upton. “Microbeads may be tiny plastic, but they are wreaking big time havoc in our waters. We came together, Republicans and Democrats, and got the job done.”

“At a time when gaining widespread bipartisan consensus is anything but easy, I am especially glad my bill to cut down on unnecessary pollution and protect our waterways is finally law,” said Pallone. "This is a commonsense solution to the serious problem of harmful plastic microbeads seeping into U.S. waterways and threatening the environment and, ultimately, public health. I am proud to have worked with Chairman Upton to swiftly move this bill through Congress and see this much-needed legislation become law.”

Microbeads are the tiny bits of plastic, often used as exfoliants in personal care products like face wash and toothpaste that can slip through water treatment systems after they are washed down the drain and make their way through water filtration systems. As a result, these microbeads often end up in our local streams, rivers, and larger bodies of water.

Scientists have found evidence of microbeads in numerous bodies of water in the United States, including increasingly in the Great Lakes, the world’s largest source of freshwater. In addition to contributing to the buildup of plastic pollution in waterways, microbeads can often be mistaken by fish and other organisms as food. If consumed by fish, the chemicals found in synthetic plastic microbeads can then be passed on to other wildlife and humans. The legislation also will preempt state and local laws related to plastic microbeads in rinse off cosmetics.