Issue Date: January 4, 2016
President Signs Microbead Ban
President Barack Obama in late December signed a law that prohibits the manufacture, sale, or distribution of personal care products containing plastic microbeads. Several states have already banned the tiny plastic spheres, found in face washes, toothpastes, and other personal care products, that can pass through wastewater treatment systems and pollute waterways. Under the federal law, manufacturers must start phasing out products with plastic microbeads less than 5 mm in diameter in 2017, which is earlier than the state laws’ deadlines. “The president’s signature on this legislation is a major victory for U.S. waterways and the environment,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), who introduced the bill in March 2015. The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which amends the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, was introduced in 2015 as H.R. 1321 in the House and S. 1424 in the Senate. The United Nations Environment Programme has called for makers of personal care products to phase out microbeads.
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