Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Committee Unanimously Approves Bill to Address Harmful Effects of Plastic Microbeads

Nov 18, 2015
Press Release
Bipartisan Bill to Ban Synthetic Exfoliants will Reduce Plastic Pollution, Protect Waterways

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which was introduced by Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) earlier this year.  The bipartisan legislation would begin the phase out of plastic microbeads from personal care products on July 1, 2017.

These small bits of plastic, often used as exfoliants in personal care products like face wash, soap, and toothpaste, can slip through water treatment systems after they are washed down the drain.  As a result, these microbeads often end up contaminating local streams, rivers and larger bodies of water.

“Our bill to ban microbeads in personal care products is a bipartisan and commonsense step forward to protect the environment, and I am glad that the Committee unanimously agrees,” said Ranking Member Pallone.  “Most people buying these everyday products are unaware of the damaging effects they are having on the environment.  However, they are being washed down the drain and reaching our waterways, so we must make sure that these soaps and toothpastes don’t contain synthetic plastic that will ultimately contaminate our environment.  I look forward to continue working with Chairman Upton and our colleagues to advance this bill and put an end to this unnecessary pollution.”

“Microbeads may be tiny plastic – but they are big time pollution, especially for our Great Lakes,” said Chairman Upton. “Today’s unanimous approval of this critical bipartisan bill is another important step in protecting Lake Michigan and all of our waters from these pesky bits of plastic. On their own, microbeads are nearly invisible, but once they’ve been flushed down the drain is where the trouble begins. Microbeads are causing mega-problems, and working together with Ranking Member Pallone and all of our colleagues, we’re going to fix it.”

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.