The Race is On: Which State Will Be the First to Ban Microplastics in Cosmetics?

Written by Margaret Badore

Here’s a race to cheer for: New York and California are neck-in-neck to become the first state to ban microbeads in body wash and other cosmetics.

The tiny plastic bits that serve as exfoliants in personal care products are so small that they slip through municipal wastewater treatment, and†end up in lakes, rivers and oceans. Once introduced to the aquatic environment, they are ingested by fish and other wildlife.

Legislature in California proposed a ban on all products containing microbeads. “It’s important to get to this before it becomes a wide-scale problemóbefore it requires a very expensive response,” California Assemblyman Richard Bloom†told The LA Times. “We know enough about marine biology to know that it will grow in magnitude and continue to be a problem.”

New York’s proposed law goes even further. The Microbead-Free Waters Act not only bans the sale of these products but also the production, manufacture and distribution of products containing plastics of 5 millimeters or smaller. “From the Great Lakes to the Hudson River to Long Island Sound, our commitment to protecting and restoring New York’s waters is among our most important responsibilities,” New York Attorney General Schneiderman†said in a press release.

Several manufacturers have†already committed to removing microbeads from their products, including The Body Shop, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever. However, legislation is a more aggressive tactic for slowing the flow of these plastics. If California and New York can set the pace, hopefully more states will follow.

There are a number of alternatives to plastics available to manufactures, such as cocoa beans or apricot pits. If consumers want to avoid plastic beads, the†Natural Resources Defense Counsel recommends not purchasing products with “polyethylene” or “polypropylene” on their labels.

Legislation in both states was shaped in part by the advocacy group†5 Gyres, which has also been studying mircoplastic pollution in the Great Lakes. In an interview in July, 5 Gyres co-founder Anna Cummins told TreeHugger that microplastics are virtually impossible to filter out of our waterways.

“This just underscores the importance of prevention, and source reduction,” she said. “Once in our lakes and oceans, plastics are there to stay, unless they are eaten by organisms, or wash back up onto shore.”

This post was originally published in TreeHugger

Photo Credit: gentlemanrook


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Ruhee B.
Ruhee B4 years ago

Never even knew about this - they shouldn't be making these in the first place.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

Hopefully, if these two states pull it off more will follow. It has to be done.

Amy Ingalls
Amy Ingalls4 years ago

I am so glad that these states are considering banning these products. Many people don't realize the damage that they cause. Hopefully more states will follow suit and microbeads will become a thing of the past.

Lynn C.
Past Member 4 years ago


Dale O.

Natural products only please. Microplastics, why would anyone even bother to dream that up? Oh, I forgot...p...r...o...f...i...t!

Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin4 years ago

one of the reasons i only use natural products

Donna F.
Donna F4 years ago

amazing! ty for an important article.

rana azzam4 years ago

All natural is the perfect way to take care of yourself

Sam Antha
Sam Antha4 years ago

I hope this shit is banned ASAP. Who really wants to rub plastic balls on their face anyway WTF! I'd rather stick to natural products by companies that don't test on animals!