Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2015

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

Congress Approves Ban on Polluting Plastic Microbeads In Beauty Products

WASHINGTON— The U.S. Senate today unanimously approved a bill phasing out the manufacture of plastic microbeads in beauty products by July 1, 2017 and the sale of such beauty products containing plastic microbeads by July 1, 2018. Similar to California's historic microbead ban signed into law 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,” the majority of which do not biodegrade in marine environments.

“Our oceans have been choking on these tiny plastic microbeads for way too long. This is a huge and important step toward protecting fish, birds and other ocean wildlife hurt by plastic pollution,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “I applaud the Senate for following California’s lead and voting to eliminate this pointless and harmful source of plastic pollution.”

The Microbead Free Waters Act, introduced by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), will prevent 2.9 trillion plastic microbeads from entering U.S. waterways each year. 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.

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 found at California fish markets had ingested plastic. One tube of exfoliating facewash can contain more than 350,000 microbeads.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1321 earlier this month. The bill now heads to President Obama for his approval.

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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