Micro-plastic particle abrasives, commonly referred to as “microbeads,” are banned under legislation signed on Oct. 8 by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Microbeads are commonly used in facial scrubs, soaps and toothpaste. The legislation, AB 888, authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), establishes the strongest protections in the country against the use of the unnecessary and potentially toxic micro-plastic beads.
“AB 888 is a comprehensive solution to the growing problem of microbead pollution. A recent study found a staggering amount of micro-plastic pollution in the San Francisco Bay, but these beads have also been found in the open ocean, rivers and the Great Lakes,” Bloom said. “California steps forward to lead the nation in environmental protection by banning this pervasive source of plastic pollution. While other states have passed similar regulations, AB 888 was carefully crafted to avoid any loopholes that would allow for use of potentially harmful substitutes.”
Bloom said microbeads contribute approximately 38 tons of plastic annually to waterways and the marine environment. Although tiny, the size of microbeads is actually the biggest problem. Plastic microbeads used as exfoliants are washed down the drain. They are generally not recoverable through ordinary wastewater treatment, and subsequently are discharged into the environment. As a result, plastic microbeads are found in oceans, and inland waterways worldwide. A single product can contain as much as 350,000 polyethylene or polypropylene microbeads.