Press Releases

Upton, Pallone Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Reduce Harmful Pollution in the Great Lakes

Legislation Would Ban Synthetic Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics

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Washington, March 4, 2015 | Tom Wilbur/Lynn Turner (202 225 3761) | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, joined his colleague Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, to introduce the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. This legislation would prohibit the sale or distribution of personal care products that contain synthetic plastic microbeads, effective January 1, 2018. Synthetic plastic microbeads are small bits of plastic that are used in personal care products like face wash, soap, and toothpaste. They can slip through water treatment systems after they are washed down the drain. As a result, these microbeads often end up in local streams, rivers, and large bodies of water such as the Great Lakes.

 “This common sense, bipartisan legislation is a win-win for consumers and our Great Lakes ecosystem,” said Upton, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “As someone who grew up on Lake Michigan and represents a large chunk of Michigan coastline, I understand firsthand how important it is to maintain the beauty and integrity of our Great Lakes. I will not stand for any actions that put our beloved Great Lakes in jeopardy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to reduce this harmful pollutant from entering our waterways, our fish, and ultimately us.”

“These tiny plastic particles that are polluting our environment are found in products specifically designed to be washed down shower drains,” said Pallone, who serves as Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “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.”

Scientists have found evidence of microbeads in numerous bodies of water in the United States, including increasingly in the Great Lakes. In addition to contributing to the buildup of plastic pollution in waterways, microbeads can often be mistaken by fish and other organisms as food. If consumed, the chemicals found in synthetic plastic microbeads can then be passed on to other wildlife and humans.

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