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Environment

Canada proposes microbeads ban

by Sharon Oosthoek, special to C&EN
November 14, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 45

The Canadian government has proposed a ban on toothpaste, skin cleansers, shower gels, and other toiletries containing plastic microbeads starting July 1, 2018. The ban is a response to researchers’ concerns that the plastic spheres adsorb persistent toxic substances, which are then eaten by small fish and other aquatic animals. The regulations would prohibit the manufacture and import of plastic microbeads that are 0.5 mm in diameter or smaller beginning Jan. 1, 2018, with a sales ban six months later. On Nov. 5, the federal government signaled its intent to regulate microbeads under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The move follows a unanimous vote by members of Parliament last year to add plastic microbeads to the country’s list of toxic substances. The government expects to issue final regulations next summer. Given industry’s anticipated voluntary phase out of the beads, manufacturers, importers and consumers are unlikely to see significant effects. But the regulation will lessen the risk of re-introduction and level the playing field between domestic and foreign companies, says Mary Ellen Perkin of Environment & Climate Change Canada.

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