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CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: CT News

CT about to ban the sale and manufacture of plastic microbeads in personal care products

BY JONATHAN KANTROWITZ

Posted: July 5, 2015
Originally Published: July 1, 2015

The CT General Assembly has passed a ban the sale and manufacture of plastic microbeads in personal care products. Plastic microbeads are a problematic ingredient found in more than 100 different products today, including facial scrubs, soaps, shampoos, and even toothpastes. Research indicates that these tiny plastic particles easily pass through sewage treatment plants and pollute our waterways, where they threaten aquatic life and transport toxins throughout the environment. Next, the bill will go to Governor Malloy’s desk to be signed into law.

“This is a major victory for Long Island Sound and all Connecticut waters,” said Louis Burch of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Having a clean face shouldn’t equate to having polluted water. There are plenty of safe, non-polluting alternatives that are already on the market today. CCE applauds Senator Ted Kennedy Jr., Representative James Albis, Representative John Shaban, and the Sound Keeper Terry Backer for their leadership in passing this important legislation.”

Industry-backed legislation passed into law in Illinois last year, and subsequently mimicked in a number of other states, would provide a blanket exemption for so-called biodegradable plastics. Scientific studies have failed to demonstrate that these so-called biodegradable plastics actually biodegrade in aquatic environment, creating a major loophole in the IL law. Connecticut’s legislation would allow for an independent study on biodegradable plastics, and would require the state to pass legislation to allow the biodegradable plastics down the line, only if the study demonstrated it actually biodegrades and doesn’t adversely impact the environment.

“Connecticut has not only stepped up to protect our waters, but we have also raised the bar to help protect waters nationwide,” continued Burch. “By closing the industry loophole, Connecticut can help drive the entire market toward safer alternatives.”

Based on per-capita use of personal care products with microbeads in the U.S., it is estimated that Connecticut residents wash more than three tons of microbeads down the drain every year. Once they enter the wastewater stream, microbeads can discharge into streams and rivers and eventually end up in Long Island Sound. Plastic microbeads can accumulate toxins present in our waters, including PCB’s and pesticides. The tiny particles are frequently mistaken for food by fish, and the pollutants contained in their body then work their way up the food chain, unnecessarily putting wildlife and human health at risk.

“Connecticut voted today to further protect our rivers, streams, and Long Island Sound from harmful plastic substances,” said Senator Kennedy, Senate Chair of the Environment Committee. “Microbeads are unnecessary additives that are washed down the drain and are consumed by aquatic life, injuring numerous fish species and contaminating our food supply. I am proud to have worked alongside advocates, industry representatives, and my colleagues in the legislature to secure passage of the strongest microbead law in the nation.”

“Plastic microbeads are showing up in fish in our food chain,” said State Representative Terry Backer. “They absorb toxins and pose a risk to human health. Tons of plastic beads are currently being flooded into our water courses resulting in pollution from millions of unnecessary particles.”


“I am pleased that an issue that I have been working to address has made its way through the legislative process and has been passed by the House,” said Rep. Kim Rose (D-Milford). “I applaud the efforts and collaboration of my colleagues and the Environment Committee for making this happen and crafting a bill that many of us support. Microbeads are detrimental to all of the marine life in Long Island Sound. I am happy to see the legislature taking action to ban these insidious plastic specks found in many of the products we use.”

“This was an important bill this session, and a major victory for the Environment Committee,” said Rep. Shaban (R), Ranking Member of the Environment Committee. “By removing plastic microbeads from the waste stream, we also promote the alternative use of natural replacement ingredients that will in turn support local agriculture.”

“My support for this piece of legislation is the perfect example of how important grassroots advocacy is to our democratic process,” said State Senator Tony Hwang. “I had heard little about microbeads until earlier this year when I started to receive hundreds of hand-written notes and pictures from elementary school students in my district. Their passion for our environment and active engagement on the issue inspired me to educate myself, and the science speaks for itself: microbeads present a very real threat to the health of our ecosystem and aquatic species. Banning them is the right thing to do, and I am thankful to my young constituents for bringing this issue to my attention.”

“I am grateful for the work of CCE, the leaders of our Environment Committee and the many voters who reached out to advocate for eliminating microbeads here in CT,” said State Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey. “This is fantastic news for our environment and for the health of our aquatic life and our residents.”