Bill Banning Plastic Microbeads Passes California Assembly, Senate’s Approval Awaited

Have you ever seen the labels of your facial cleansers or cosmetic powders and wondered what is the purpose of polyethylene or polypropylene in them? Well, this means the product contains ‘Microbeads’, the tiny plastic beads that give your face the smoother tone you have always yearned for. However, there is more to these shiny balls!

On account of the increasing menace these microbeads have become, on Friday, the California State Assembly passed the nation’s most stringent legislation on plastic microbeads. The bills would next move to the Senate for its approval. If passed, California would join Illinois, Colorado and New Jersey in the fight against these hazardous beads.

Microbeads are the small plastic balls used in product like scrubs and cleansers that facilitate the exfoliating properties of these products. Though not a hazard for humans directly, the problem with these beads is that, when you wash the cleanser from your face, the microbeads go down the drain and owing to their size, these are not even filtered out during the wastewater treatment process. Hence, these are passed off in oceans and rivers as it is. Marine creatures can take these beads as eggs and gulp them, taking in the toxins attached to them. Thereafter, people consume this seafood, and this is how the chemicals persist all along the food chain.

Going by numbers, Californians Against Waste, a non-profit organization has estimated that over 471 million plastic microbeads are released into San Francisco Bay every day. In fact, a tube of facial cleanser contains more than 300,000 microbeads in it.

Owing to the enormity of the impact these minuscule beads can have, companies like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble, have already started phasing these out from their products. However, the costs of natural substitutes like apricot and walnut being prohibitive, it will take some time before their use it completely stopped.

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