Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions


Source: WIVB Buffalo

After microbead ban, officials advise on how to dispose of microbead products


Posted: September 12, 2015
Originally Published: September 11, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – When you go to the store, it’s common to find toothpaste, soaps, or exfoliators with microbeads.

Now that Erie County has banned stores from selling products containing them, many people are asking, “What’s the best way to dispose of them at home?”

“If you have purchased one of these products the best thing that we would encourage people to do would be to mail them back to the manufacturer. You can also include a letter and let them know you’re not going to purchase these products anymore, because of the damage it does to our environment,” Brian Smith, the Associate Executive Producer at Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Environmentalists also suggest that you throw the product in the garbage so it goes to a landfill, which is better than it ending up in the waterways.

“It’s not the most ideal situation, but the most ideal situation is not buying them in the first place. But if you’re going to have to get rid of them, it’s better not to dump them down the drain again. Putting them in the garbage is the next best solution,” Smith said.

Microbeads are tiny plastic particles, less than a millimeter thick. They’re too small to be filtered out in wastewater treatment plants and end up in the water system and ultimately the food chain.

Erie County Legislators say this new law protects our waterways and acts as an example for the state, which has refused to take up the issue for two years.

“We’re situated right on Lake Erie, where a lot of the research indicated the beads were ubiquitous in our waterways. By Erie County eliminating tons of plastic microbeads going down the drain, there’s going to be a real direct benefit to the health of the Great Lakes,” Smith said.

Now that Erie County has banned the sale of products with microbeads, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Niagara counties are considering bans as well.