Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 28, 2015

Contact: Blake Kopcho, (805) 708-3435,

President Obama Signs Ban on Polluting Plastic Microbeads in Beauty Products

WASHINGTON— President Obama today signed into law a bill phasing out the manufacture of facewash, toothpaste and shampoo containing plastic microbeads by July 1, 2017 and the sale of such beauty products by July 1, 2018. Following in the footsteps of California’s historic microbead ban enacted earlier this year, the Microbead-Free Waters Act (H.R. 1321) bans all plastic microbeads from beauty products, including those made from so-called “biodegradable plastics,” most of which do not biodegrade in marine environments.

“Our oceans are inundated with microplastics that threaten sea birds, turtles and other marine wildlife. Now we can stop adding to the trillions of pieces already out there,” said Blake Kopcho, oceans campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This will eliminate a pointless and harmful source of plastic pollution before it ever has a chance to reach the oceans.”

The Microbead-Free Waters Act, introduced by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), is an important step toward addressing the global crisis of microplastic pollution. Plastic microbeads — designed to be washed down the drain and too small to be reliably captured by wastewater treatment facilities — pollute lakes, rivers and oceans. One tube of exfoliating facewash can contain more than 350,000 microbeads, and it’s estimated that 2.9 trillion microbeads enter U.S. waterways annually.

Once in the environment, plastic microbeads concentrate toxins such as pesticides and flame retardants on their surface, which may then transfer to the tissue of fish that mistake microbeads for food. A recent study found that one quarter of fish purchased at California markets had ingested plastic.

Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives unanimously approved H.R. 1321 earlier this month.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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