- Yesterday, the California State Assembly passed a bill (AB888) to ban the sale of personal care products and cosmetics containing plastic microbeads. These microbeads — which measure less than 5 millimeters in diameter — are designed to wash down the drain, where they soak up toxic chemicals, pollute waterways, and harm the fish that eat them.
- More than 75 water agencies, environmental advocacy organizations, and green businesses in California have showed support for the bill.
- If signed by the governor, AB888 would take effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Californians Against Waste (CAW) reported that the ban would keep 38 tons of plastic pollution out of California's waterways each year.
Assemblyman Richard Bloom, who wrote AB888, announced on Twitter that the bill passed Assembly:
AB888, my Plastic Microbeads legislation, passes the Assembly on concurrence. Now, on to the Governor for - I hope - his signature !!!— Richard Bloom (@RichardBloom) September 8, 2015
While there are many natural products — such as apricot shells, walnut shells, and cocoa beans — that can be used as alternatives to plastic microbeads, the plastic is cheaper for companies to use in their products. More than 3,000 personal care products now contain polyethylene, according to an online database by the Environmental Working Group.
"I am confident that, if the governor signs this bill, future generations will look back and wonder why these tiny pieces of plastic were ever even considered for use in products that are designed to be washed down the drain," CAW Executive Director Mark Murray said in a press release.
Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana, and Maryland have already enacted legislation to ban the use of microbeads. Similar bills are pending in many other states, including Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, and Oregon.