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house Bill H.R. 1321

Should Congress Ban Plastic Microbeads From Cosmetics?

Argument in favor

Microbeads are harmful for to aquatic animals, ecosystems, and people who eat seafoods. The federal government needs to step in to prevent their use in cosmetic products once and for all.

Michaela12's Opinion
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12/07/2015
Every year approximately eight million tons of plastic washes into the ocean and this number continues to increase. Although plastic pollution is a problem all over the world. Microbeads are especially dangerous because of how difficult they are to remove from the water system. After being washed down the shower drain these beads like all plastic do not biodegrade but are very susceptible to absorbing other hydrophobic toxins which then makes all our water more dangerous. Some of which may eventually come back out your kitchen sink. -- For those who think environment isn't important for congress to worry about, how about your life? You can deny climate change but you can't deny the huge amounts of pollution being piled up all over the world. Climate change or no if we don't end the current lifestyle of overconsumption and one time use products in less than 50 years our planet is going to be like the movie Wall-e.
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AndrewGVN's Opinion
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12/08/2015
These "microbeads" are completely useless, and are rather annoying, for me personally. The harm that these useless beads have is not worth it, the danger it has on the aquatic life, and possibly in our life (in terms of seafood) is not worth having these beads in your hand wash or cosmetic product.
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Gordon's Opinion
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12/07/2015
This is a good start, but it should be noted that "synthetic plastic microbead" must be defined more specifically to avoid any loopholes. This exact term is used in many state bans that include a loophole allowing for "biodegradable" microbeads. While this sounds logical, the current regulatory standard for the term "biodegradable plastic" is not sufficient. The requirements for such labelling pertain to industrial composting where 1) the plastic must be present (no microbeads and a very small minority of other plastics are recovered efficiently or at all) and 2) the plastic is exposed to 140°F and specific pressure parameters. These conditions do not exist in marine environments (where all microbeads end up) and are nearly nonexistent anywhere on earth. If the standard is changed to predict real world, rapid biodegradability in both land and marine environments then such a loophole would be acceptable and responsible with reference to new materials. Until then, we must be very vigilant to not allow "Big Plastic" lobbyists to fool our legislators and the general public.
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Argument opposed

The federal government doesn’t need to intervene where states and consumers should be making decisions. Some states and companies have already banned them without federal interference.

Richard's Opinion
···
12/07/2015
I am almost in tears laughing when I think of the critical issues the country is facing and some idiot feels this is a high priority issue for Congress to be spending time on.
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operaman's Opinion
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12/07/2015
This is a state problem. Some states have taken up the microbeads case. Just a reminder that this product is a carbon product just like micro ground apricot seeds. But if microbead products ARE dangerous to humans or wildlife, they should be removed from production.
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Ben's Opinion
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12/15/2015
Let the people buy the products they feel are right. We don't need the go el
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What is House Bill H.R. 1321?

This bill aims to phase out cosmetics and over-the-counter drugs that have microbeads by July, 1, 2019. This plan would be executed over the following timeline with these bans: 

  • July, 1, 2017: Manufacturing products with microbeads would be banned;
  • July, 1, 2018: Selling cosmetics (like this) with microbeads would be banned;
  • July, 1, 2019: Over-the-counter drugs (like this) with microbeads would be banned; 

Microbeads are little synthetic plastic bits, often used as exfoliants, that can be found in hundreds of body scrubs, shampoos, toothpastes, and face washes. Because they are usually only about 5 millimeters in size, when they wash down the drain, they are often too small for municipal sewer systems to filter out. Consequently, they eventually end up in the ocean and have been blamed for harm to aquatic animals, ecosystems, and the people who eat seafoods that have inadvertently eaten microbeads.

Impact

People who use cosmetic products, companies that use microbeads in their products, and the federal government.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1321

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) cited the need to stop pollution from plastic microbeads as a primary reason for his introduction of this bill in a press release:

“These tiny plastic particles that are polluting our environment are found in products specifically designed to be washed down shower drains. And many people buying these products are unaware of their damaging effects on the environment.  If we know that these products will eventually reach our waterways, we must make sure that they don’t contain synthetic plastic that does not biodegrade and will ultimately pollute our waterways.  We have a responsibility to put a stop to this unnecessary plastic pollution.  By phasing out the use of plastic microbeads and transitioning to non-synthetic alternatives, we can protect U.S. waters before it’s too late.”

Currently this legislation has 36 cosponsors in the House, 31 of whom are Democrats while 5 Republicans have signed on to support the bill.


Of Note: In October 2015, California became the seventh state to pass laws restricting or banning the use of microbeads. Among the corporations that have committed to stop using microbeads are Unilever, Colgate-Palomolive, and Johnson & Johnson.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: "RaceforWater PeterCharaf MicroplasticsAzores (2)" by Raceforwater - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

AKA

Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015

Official Title

To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the manufacture and introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of rinse-off cosmetics containing intentionally-added plastic microbeads.

bill Progress


  • EnactedDecember 28th, 2015
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed December 18th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
  • The house Passed December 7th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Health
    IntroducedMarch 4th, 2015

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    Every year approximately eight million tons of plastic washes into the ocean and this number continues to increase. Although plastic pollution is a problem all over the world. Microbeads are especially dangerous because of how difficult they are to remove from the water system. After being washed down the shower drain these beads like all plastic do not biodegrade but are very susceptible to absorbing other hydrophobic toxins which then makes all our water more dangerous. Some of which may eventually come back out your kitchen sink. -- For those who think environment isn't important for congress to worry about, how about your life? You can deny climate change but you can't deny the huge amounts of pollution being piled up all over the world. Climate change or no if we don't end the current lifestyle of overconsumption and one time use products in less than 50 years our planet is going to be like the movie Wall-e.
    Like (66)
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    I am almost in tears laughing when I think of the critical issues the country is facing and some idiot feels this is a high priority issue for Congress to be spending time on.
    Like (6)
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    These "microbeads" are completely useless, and are rather annoying, for me personally. The harm that these useless beads have is not worth it, the danger it has on the aquatic life, and possibly in our life (in terms of seafood) is not worth having these beads in your hand wash or cosmetic product.
    Like (30)
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    This is a good start, but it should be noted that "synthetic plastic microbead" must be defined more specifically to avoid any loopholes. This exact term is used in many state bans that include a loophole allowing for "biodegradable" microbeads. While this sounds logical, the current regulatory standard for the term "biodegradable plastic" is not sufficient. The requirements for such labelling pertain to industrial composting where 1) the plastic must be present (no microbeads and a very small minority of other plastics are recovered efficiently or at all) and 2) the plastic is exposed to 140°F and specific pressure parameters. These conditions do not exist in marine environments (where all microbeads end up) and are nearly nonexistent anywhere on earth. If the standard is changed to predict real world, rapid biodegradability in both land and marine environments then such a loophole would be acceptable and responsible with reference to new materials. Until then, we must be very vigilant to not allow "Big Plastic" lobbyists to fool our legislators and the general public.
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    Banning harmful substances that have no real and unique use seems like a no brainer.
    Like (9)
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    These little things are a menace. Without a federal law, it is too easy to work around it. Either we want a future or we do not. Just do this & quit whining & wringing your manly hands!
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    To better protect the environment the government must lead in taking environmental unfriendly ingredients from the environment
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    It's harmful to our planet, why wouldn't we want to do anything to stop it from harming us further?
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    It is unnecessary commodity (that could easily be replaces with something biodegradable) that will have dangerous ramifications (for the whole world) in the future if the government doesn't act.
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    This is a state problem. Some states have taken up the microbeads case. Just a reminder that this product is a carbon product just like micro ground apricot seeds. But if microbead products ARE dangerous to humans or wildlife, they should be removed from production.
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    This is an unnecessary environmental hazard for something that has so many natural alternatives.
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    Of course! It's completely proven how dangerous and terrible they are for the environment. There are plenty more environment friendly and sustainable exfoliants. Besides they cause more damage to the skin than they do replenish it.
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    Trillions of microbeads exist in our oceans and the marine life that many of us eat. There is already a shift to using natural exfoliants...let's keep that shift moving!
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    I think we can all be a little less pretty to safeguard the food supply. This is a bit of a no-brainer, unless you're Republican.
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    Anything that saves us a lot of trouble in the future has my vote. Even if they are being discontinued, another push is not going to hurt anyone.
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    This would be an acceptable first micro step
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    Microbeads do not dissolve in our water systems and cause more waste. They are unnecessary and more plastic waste for the environment. There are natural ways around this.
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    In the argument against, it's absurd to say it should be left up to the consumer to decide when the consumer doesn't even know what microbeads are or if they are in the product most of the time. This type of regulation from the feds is essential so the public good is protected from industry. The same logical argument should be imposed on foods that have GMO's in them. How can the consumer make a decision if they don't have the information available to them to make it?
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    Consumers cannot be relied upon to make a decision on this issue because many are not aware that the beads are plastic or that they are harming the environment. I work for a skincare company and was still not aware of their effects until after I noticed the products we use (from only 1 company) had changed.
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    Consumers shouldn't suffer for the negligence of states who refuse to protect them from harmful ingredients.
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