By Adrienne Boudreau:
Our Great Lakes neighbor over in the midwest, Illinois, has made a move (after New York State did) in February to protect their waterway system from micro beads, small plastic spheres found in hundreds of personal care products such as toothpaste or facial scrubs.
The legislation comes as a reaction to the rising concern micro beads have on waterways and wildlife and would prohibit the production, manufacture, distribution and sale of any personal care item containing the beads in the state of Illinois.
These small orbs can be mistaken by fish and wildlife of all sizes as food, due to their similar appearance to fish eggs, according to a statement released by the Alliance For the Great Lakes. Micro beads, like other plastics, can easily absorb toxic chemicals commonly found throughout the surrounding area and ones pulled and tested from the Great Lakes contain higher concentrations of polyaromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls.
The beads are manufactured for single use, with no possibility to recycle and are also too small to be cleared out by water treatment facilities.
“We must keep these contaminants out of Lake Michigan so they don’t end up in our drinking water or fish dinners,” said Illinois state Sen. Heather Steans.
The personal care industry seems to be bringing the practice of plastic micro beads to an end anyway, and this legislation helps to put the final nails in the coffin.
Many leading companies such as Proctor & Gamble, The Body Shop, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal and Colgate-Palmolive have made recent commitments to phase out the use of micro beads in their products.
Consumers can determine if their personal-care or beauty products contain micro beads by checking the ingredient list for “polyethylene” or “polypropylene.”
Photos courtesy of Alliance For the Great Lakes