Michigan congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, has joined his colleague Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, to introduce a bill that would ban the use of synthetic plastic microbeads in personal care products such as face wash, soap and toothpaste.
The move was welcomed by the American Chemistry Council, which said that it had previously supported legislation to phase out microbeads from personal care products in New Jersey and Illinois along with environmentalists and personal care product manufacturers.
After they are washed down the drain, these tiny pieces of plastic can slip through wastewater treatment plants — ending up in local streams, rivers and large bodies of water like the Great Lakes.
As well as contributing to the build-up of plastic pollution in waterways, microbeads are often mistaken by fish and other organisms as food. If consumed, the chemicals found in synthetic plastic microbeads can then be passed on to other wildlife and humans, Upton and Pallone pointed out.
"This common sense, bipartisan legislation is a win-win for consumers and our Great Lakes ecosystem," said Upton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Pallone, who serves as Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, added: "If we know that these products will eventually reach our waterways, we must make sure that they don't contain synthetic plastic that does not biodegrade and will ultimately pollute our waterways. We have a responsibility to put a stop to this unnecessary plastic pollution. By phasing out the use of plastic microbeads and transitioning to non-synthetic alternatives, we can protect U.S. waters before it's too late."
The legislation would prohibit the sale or distribution of personal care products containing synthetic plastic microbeads, effective January 1, 2018.