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California Becomes Latest State to Ban Plastic Microbeads

OCT. 8, 2015
Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed legislation on Thursday that bans plastic microbeads, giving his state one of the country’s strongest laws against the tiny abrasives used in exfoliators and other products.
“We’re obviously incredibly excited,” said Stiv Wilson, director of campaigns at the nonprofit group the Story of Stuff Project. “We just passed a very simple ban on plastic microbeads without any loopholes.”
The consumer products industry had objected to certain aspects of the bill, arguing that it was overly restrictive and did not allow companies to come up with environmentally friendly alternatives. The California rules include a prohibition against biodegradable microbeads, which other states with similar legislation allow.
At least six other states have passed laws restricting microbeads, including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland and New Jersey.
Lisa Powers, a spokeswoman for the Personal Care Products Council, said in an email that the industry trade group had taken a neutral position on the bill.
Microbeads look like tiny dots suspended in cleansers and other toiletries. Manufacturers including Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble advertise their exfoliating power, particularly in face and body scrubs.
But when consumers rinse these products off, the microbeads flow from sinks and showers into the water. Billions of microbeads have the same effect as grinding up plastic water bottles and dumping them into the ocean, environmentalists say.

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