New York state has sought to prohibit the production, manufacture, distribution or sale of any cosmetic product containing microbeads. Specifically, Long Island Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Suffolk) introduced the Microbead-Free Waters Act (A08744) on Feb. 11, 2014, on behalf of the state's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, to ban the inclusion of plastic particles less than five millimeters in cosmetics.
The act follows research from 2012 at the State University of New York in Fredonia, where scientists found microbeads in Great Lake waters, specifically in high concentrations in Lake Erie. The act proposes to amend the state's environmental conservation law by adding a Title 9 to Article 37 that probihits sale of the particles. As part of the bill, the Department of Environmental Conservation has the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement Title 9. Finally, the third section of the act amends Section 71-3703 to establish penalties for violation.
Many cosmetics companies such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, and Colgate-Palmolive have already committed to phasing out the use of microbeads in their products.
If the legislation is passed, manufacturers would have until December 31, 2015 to phase the microbeads out and replace them with alternatives.