Microbeads are plastic particles less than five millimeters in size, and have been the recent target of environmental advocacy organizations. When used in personal care products like facial scrubs, soaps and toothpaste, the tiny microbeads can’t be effectively caught by filtration systems, and head straight for our waterways where they are ingested by wildlife. The most recent proposal prohibits the manufacture or sale of personal care products containing plastic microbeads by December 31, 2016, except for over-the-counter drugs. On December 31, 2017, over-the-counter drugs containing plastic microbeads would be prohibited from manufacture or sale as well. Certain microbeads that completely break down in the environment within two weeks are made exempt.
The bill was passed unanimously by the Environment and Energy Committee, and the Commerce Committee expects to hear the bill next week, in time for the second deadline. (S.F. 507)