Illinois Bans Microbeads
Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Sunday making Illinois first state to ban personal care products containing synthetic plastic microbeads.
banning the manufacture and sale of personal care products containing synthetic plastic microbeads.
"Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow," Quinn said. "Lake Michigan and the many rivers and lakes across our state are among our most important natural resources. We must do everything necessary to safeguard them."
The new law bans the manufacture of personal care products containing microbeads by the end of 2017, the sale of personal care products and the manufacture of over the counter drugs by the end of 2018, and the sale of over the counter drugs by the end of 2019.
Environmentalists have said the non-biodegradable plastic particles used as exfoliants in many facial cleansers and soaps slip through sewage system filters and pile up in waterways, where they suck up toxins and harm wildlife. Preliminary studies in Lake Michigan have found millions of microbeads.
"I'm optimistic that we've started a nationwide movement to protect not just the Great Lakes, but other bodies of water with high concentrations of microbeads," said State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, who co-sponsored the bill.
At least four other states are considering similar bills, and at least one, New York, has an earlier deadline -- 2016 -- for eliminating the microbeads.
Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and L'Oreal already have information on their websites explaining their plans for gradually eliminating the scrub beads from their products and testing for natural alternatives, like ground seeds or nuts.
Unilever says on its website that it plans to complete its phaseout of microbeads globally by 2015.
Until the products are off the shelves, consumers who don't wish to use products with the plastic bits should watch out for products that list polyethylene and polypropylene in their ingredient lists, according to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, an advocate for protection of the Great Lakes.
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