Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions
Campaigns:

CCE IN THE NEWS

Source: The Middletown Press

Connecticut advocates laud Senate passage of microbead ban

BY ANNA BISARO

Posted: December 22, 2015
Originally Published: December 21, 2015

WASHINGTON >> The Senate voted unanimously to approve the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 Friday and have it be sent to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

The bill, first introduced in the House in March, bans production and sale of synthetic microbeads in rinse-off cosmetic products and over-the-counter drugs in coming years.

According to the bill, the manufacture of cosmetic products, such as soaps and facial cleansers that contain microbeads, will be banned on July 1, 2017 and their sale will be prohibited on July 1, 2018. Over the counter drugs that contain plastic microbeads will no longer be allowed to be manufactured starting July 1, 2018 and their sale will be banned on July 1, 2019.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn, a cosponsor of the bill, said he was thrilled about the unanimous Senate support Friday. Murphy has pledged his ongoing support of the bill in the past because of the threat of these microbeads - made with polypropylene and polyethylene - on the Long Island Sound.

“Each day, an estimated eight trillion tiny plastic microbeads enter the country’s waterways, threaten the quality of the water, aquatic life, and even our food chain and public health,” Murphy said in a release Friday. “For much of Connecticut, that means they end up in the Long Island Sound, which critical to Connecticut’s economy and our way of life.”

The sale of microbeads in Connecticut as of January 2017 was banned by the General Assembly earlier this year. Murphy acknowledged that action again Friday and said he was happy Congress realized Connecticut could not protect the nation’s waters alone.

He also made special tribute to the late Rep. Terry Backer, D-Stratford, a long-time supporter of cleaning up Long Island Sound. Backer died on Dec. 15.

“I cannot help but feel deep regret that Terry Backer, a close friend and mentor, isn’t around to celebrate this victory,” Murphy said. “I wouldn’t have fought for this issue so hard without his fierce advocacy in Connecticut, and he deserves credit for the state ban and for raising awareness of this across the country. Today is a day to be proud of.”

Plastic microbeads are defined in the act as “any solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body or any part thereof.”

If the bill is signed into law, the microbeads would be banned from rinse-off cosmetics, which includes face washes, soaps, and toothpastes.

Research done by Southern Connecticut State University professor Vincent Breslin and a team of students, showed that these microbeads, absorb contaminants in the water, such as oil and grease. Breslin’s work also showed that fish often mistake these microbeads as eggs of other fish species and eat them, thus having potential negative effects on the food supply of people and other animals. The microbeads are not sufficiently filtered out of water after it washed down the drain and the beads are not biodegradable, according to the study’s findings.

Environmental groups also celebrated the bill’s passage through the Senate on Friday.

“We’re ecstatic over the Microbead-Free Act,” said Louis Burch of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “It sends a huge message to the public that clean water is a priority.”

Burch added that he thought the bill gives the industry enough time to adjust to the measure.

“We applaud Congress for coming together with bipartisan support to get this thing done,” Burch said.


Save the Sound Director Curt Johnson also applauded the work of Congress in getting the bill passed, noting that the bill not only protected the Long Island Sound, but all of the nation’s waterways and surrounding oceanic waters. He said Congress worked efficiently to “solve an easy problem.”

But, banning these little microbeads is just one step towards cleaning up plastic from the world’s oceans, Johnson said.

“There’s no such thing as throwing away plastics,” he said. “There’s much more to be done on plastics, but this is a huge step forward.”