Fish don’t need exfoliants

UPDATE 3/12: The Senate formally passed the bill today, again unanimously. This is very exciting! Now…on to the House.

Today the Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval to SB200, which prohibits the manufacture and sale of plastic microbeads in personal care products as of 2018. The bill includes a ban on bioplastics that cannot be proven to biodegrade in the marine environment.

A single bottle of face wash or tube of toothpaste can contain more than 300,000 microbeads. Designed to be washed down the drain, these plastic pellets are too small to be captured by wastewater treatment facilities, so they end up in local waters, the Chesapeake Bay, and the oceans. These particles absorb chemicals from the water like pesticides and PCBs, and are also mistaken for food by fish. This is not good news for the Bay’s fisheries or our food chain.

More than two dozen states are considering legislation to ban these products, in an effort to push manufacturers to reformulate their products to use natural ingredients like oatmeal and apricot stones. Maryland could become the first to pass such a ban that includes bioplastics.

The final Senate vote is expected this week. The House is still working on similar legislation. Click here to find your state representatives and call them to ask them to support SB200 and HB216 with amendments to close the loophole for bioplastics.

Meanwhile, what should you do with products you may already have? Check your bathroom cabinets for products that include polyethylene or polypropylene and stop using them. You can send the unused product to us (email me for info) or to The Story of Stuff Project for demonstration and education projects.

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