United States Prohibits Microbeads

U.S. President Obama has signed a law that prohibits the sale and distribution of cosmetics containing microbeads. The law affects small polymer beads added to toothpastes, shower gels, peeling products, and contact lens cleaning solutions for more effective cleansing. The law forbids the manufacture of such products as of July 2017. The law also expressly affects biodegradable polymer beads.

Individual states, such as California and Wisconsin, have already passed similar laws. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) praised the law because it sets nationwide, mandatory standards.
Scientists consider microbeads hazardous because they accumulate primarily in marine organisms. In addition, the plastic beads attract and collect other pollutants and carcinogens that can then infiltrate organisms.

The polymer beads pass unimpeded through sewage treatment plants and ultimately flow into the ocean. Experts estimate that some 10 million tons of microplastics enter the ocean every year – and the trend is rising. The numbers include polymer beads, the abrasive residue of tires, and plastic waste degraded by weather.

As a reliable partner, we have been advising cosmetics firms for several years. If you have questions about the problems posed by microbeads or the safety of your products, please contact us at cosmetics@kft.de. And please consider our seminar (in German only) on air fresheners, razors, and cleaning materials on January 21.

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