They start out as tiny plastic additives that cosmetic and health product manufactures add to their products and they end up becoming a major polluntant that compromises the ecosystem and even our drinking water. They’re remarkably easy to overlook and yet they’ve become rather infamous, so much so that the companies that use them are starting to see why bans are necessary. They’re known as microbeads. You’ll find them in facial scrubs, hand sanitizers, toothpastes, and in a number of other commercial products. Sometimes they’re colored and resemble sugary sprinkles, other times they’re virtually invisible.

What’s So Bad About Microbeads?
Intended to function as an exfoliating aid, microbeads have become a rather prominent ingredient in many products that mostly get washed down our drains. As they travel through our drainage system, their small size makes it easy for them to slip through the water treatment process and end up in lakes, rivers.

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Along the way, they collect waste and chemical residue. The accumulative effect they’ve had on wildlife and waterways has made them a significant environmental hazard. As a result, environmentalists and ecologists have called for bans, and now many lawmakers, and even the companies that use them, have increasingly supported such measures.


Recognizing The Harm And Changes In The Market
What does it take for companies that produce a product to actually support a ban on a component of that very product? Reportedly, microbead product manufacturers have started to recognize the harm they are causing.

As more states are passing laws that outlaw microbeads and more consumers are made aware of the problem, eliminating plastic microbeads from health and beauty products also makes good marketing sense. Illinois was the first state to enact a ban and Colorado, New Jersey, and Maine have recently followed. Bans seem to have gathered extra support in areas where their impact is becoming increasingly apparent, including the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.


Support Spreads And Companies Respond
While the timelines for phase-out of microbead products vary from state-to-state and manufacturer-to-manufacturer, it seems likely that more states will call for their eventual elimination. As access to fresh water is becoming a greater concern in more regions throughout the U.S., it’s also likely that the public and legislators will feel pressure to address serious issues that affect our water supply.

Still the question remains: how will most manufacturers respond, especially when they must greatly modify their products to meet with new standards? Tell us your thoughts on microbead bans and growing support for them.

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