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Assembly Panel Moves Diegnan, Moriarty Bill Banning Manufacturing and Sale of Microbead Cosmetic Products in New Jersey

Sponsors Cite Rising Environmental Concerns; NJ Joins Other States, including New York, in Introducing Legislation Aimed at Ridding Microbeads from Personal Products

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex) and Paul Moriarty (D-Camden, Gloucester) sponsored to address the growing environmental concerns over beauty products containing microbeads was released by the Assembly Consumer Affairs panel on Thursday.

The sponsors of the bill commend the companies that have begun to voluntarily phase out the use of microbeads in products. If this legislation were to become law, New Jersey would join one other state, Illinois in banning the use of microbeads.

The bill (A-3083) prohibits the production, manufacture, and sale of all personal cosmetic products containing microbeads. Microbeads are small plastic particles that are added to personal cosmetic products such as soap, face wash and toothpaste. They are artificial replacements for natural additives such as crushed almonds and pumice.

“I applaud the companies who have recognized the ill effects that polyethylene microspheres have on the environment and stand with us as we take steps to curb its use,” Diegnan said. “By banning these products, we are preserving New Jersey’s environmental heritage and protecting marine life.”

Water management facilities around the country are not capable of filtering small microbeads. These microbeads reportedly contain harmful toxins, flow through water treatment facilities, and are directly deposited in our waterways. Microbeads in open water appear edible to fish, which then eat the toxin-covered plastic particles. These fish are then consumed by other fish or humans, resulting in microbeads covered with toxins entering the food chain.

“New Jersey’s marine life and fishing industry need our protection now,” Moriarty said. “There are plenty of other ecologically friendly ingredients that can replace microbeads without endangering our ecosystem.”

The bill’s prohibition against the production or manufacture of personal cosmetic products containing microbeads would commence January 1, 2018. The measure prohibits the sale, offer for sale, or promotion of these items on or after January 1, 2019. For an over the counter drug containing synthetic plastic microbeads, no person will be able to sell, offer for sale, or offer for promotion these items in the state beginning January 1, 2020.

Legislation also has been introduced in New York, California, Michigan and other states to address the environmental concerns caused by microbeads. Microbeads are made of polyethylene, a plastic used to manufacture garbage containers, grocery bags, bulletproof vests and even knew replacements.
Scientists warn that microbeads, which are not biodegradable, are too small to be removed by the water treatment process and end up in lakes, rivers and oceans.