Environmental Policy News

Congress Votes: Microbeads Could be Banned by 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 (H.R. 1321). The bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), provides a timeframe for the removal of synthetic plastic microbeads from over-the-counter (OTC) and personal care products.


“These microbeads are tiny plastic, but make for big-time pollution,” said Congressman Fred Upton, R-Michigan, a cosponsor of the bill, in a statement.

The bill cleared the House on 7 December 2015 without objection after previously passing the House Energy and Commerce Committee, also without objection, on 18 November 2015. The Senate is expected to follow suite.

The bill will require the cosmetic industry to reformulate acne face washes and toothpastes to remove plastic microbeads. Some companies have already taken steps to voluntarily remove these solid plastic microbeads from their products by ceasing the development of any new products containing synthetic plastic microbeads and working toward formulating replacement products. The bill would ban the microbeads beginning January 2018.

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