The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Bill banning microbeads in California skin care products advances with some manufacturer support

Microscopic view of microbeads -- plastic beads used in personal care products like facial scrubs, which can be eaten by fish and other marine life.
Microscopic view of microbeads -- plastic beads used in personal care products like facial scrubs, which can be eaten by fish and other marine life. Wikipedia Commons

The California Assembly passed a bill banning the use of microbeads — small pieces of plastic found in soaps and cosmetics — following actions already being taken by skin care product makers as well as other state legislatures to keep microbeads out of waterways.
    
Manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble are already phasing out the exfoliating ingredients, which are considered harmful to the environment in part because they are not biodegradable.

RELATED:  Why are tiny, exfoliating microbeads so bad for US waterways?

The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), heads to the state Senate after passing on a 45-10 vote. The tiny exfoliating beads make their way past filters in municipal water treatment plants and are swallowed by fish, which mistake them for food, Bloom said.

 "My bill ensures that there is a uniform mandate for the use of these harmful microbeads to level the playing field for all industry and help … protect water for future generations," Bloom said.
    
Specifically, it would prohibit the sale of such products and establish a $2,500 a day fine for each violation.

RELATED: Why Those Tiny Microbeads In Soap May Pose Problem For Great Lakes

The cosmetics industry opposes the bill and won a concession to push back the timeline of the phase-out to 2019. Bloom said other manufacturers have pledged to use natural, biodegradable exfoliating ingredients such as cocoa beans and apricot shells.

"The nation's personal care products companies have a longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship and the safety of their products and are demonstrating leadership on this issue," the Personal Care Products Council said in a statement after the bill passed.
    
Bloom says he is close to a compromise to amend his bill to win manufacturer support.

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