California Enacts Common Sense Micro-bead Reform

If you ban microbeads, only criminals will have microbeads

(Fox News) Environmentalists are beaming after California Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to sign legislation that bans soap, toothpaste and body wash that contain so-called microbeads — a move that puts added pressure on the industry nationally to phase out the products.

The law, which will be imposed in 2020, bans the tiny exfoliating plastic beads that are common in many hygiene products but also are showing up inside fish and other wildlife. Environmentalists say the beads are easily passing through water filtration systems without disintegrating.

“A recent study found a staggering amount of micro-plastic pollution in the San Francisco Bay but these beads have also been found in the open ocean, rivers and the Great Lakes,” bill sponsor Assembleyman Richard Bloom said in a statement, calling the beads a “pervasive source of plastic pollution.”

Despite the snark in the headline and lead sentence, this is actually a good move by California, and done for purely environmental reasons, rather than mixing ‘climate change’ into the mix, which makes me happy. Personally, I would have like to see the ban a little sooner than four years from now. But, many, many companies are looking to remove them from their products at this time.

California becomes the ninth state to ban the microbeads, with the Michigan legislature also considering a ban, The Detroit Free Press reports. But California is the largest state to do so, and environmental groups hope the policy will be imitated nationwide.

It would be much better if industry would self regulate and remove the microbeads from their products. Johnson and Johnson has promised to remove all microbeads from their products by 2017. Other companies say they’ll do the same.

You might be saying “hey, Teach, isn’t this all a case of Big Government that you hate?” No, it isn’t. Classical Liberalism doctrine boils down to “the government that governs least governs best”, but it also notes that government must get involved from time to time to solve certain issues.

(LA Times) The plastic beads do pose environmental problems. They are not biodegradable, and they can pick up toxins such as insecticides and industrial chemicals. Because wastewater treatment plants can’t easily remove the beads, they flow into waterways, out to sea and into the food chain.

(ENN) For the environment, microbeads pose a problem because many contain harmful chemicals like PCBs along with other fat-soluble compounds known to cling to polyethylene, the plastic used to make them. That’s in addition to estrogen, a hormone that’s perfectly safe at normal levels in many animals, but one that can cause health problems if it builds up in the body. Estrogen-induced health problems can include behavioral changes in male fish along with damage to fish eggs that causes impairments and nonviability. Their size makes the problem even worse, as they look at a glance like fish eggs, a tasty snack enjoyed by many aquatic animals: It’s like setting out a chocolate cake laced with poison.

(CBS News) “By the time the plastic gets downstream towards the ocean, they become these toxic pills,” he said. “Even a small microbead, as it tumbles down stream, is picking up all kinds of industrial chemicals.”

(CBC) “These tiny plastic particles are showing up in the guts of aquatic animals and in our beer.”

I’d say that’s a good reason for government to step in, wouldn’t you? Especially since the microbeads really do not do anything other than provide color and taste.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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