Earlier this month Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law SB 2727 banning the sale and production of hand soaps, facial scrubs, and other personal care products containing plastic microbeads, which are viewed as an environmental hazard polluting Illinois waterways. According to the legislation, natural alternatives such as ground almonds, oatmeal and pumice can be used to achieve comparable effects.
While microbeads are safe and effective for human use, they do pose a threat to the environment by accumulating in area waters ways and would subject many states with the burdensome task of finding and allocating financial resources to make costly improvements to sewage-treatment facilities.
The manufacturing ban is set for December 31, 2017 and the sale ban of personal-care products formulated with plastic microbeads is set for December 31, 2018. However, products regulated as OTC drugs such as toothpastes and antimicrobial soaps, may be manufactured until December 31, 2018 and sold until and December 31, 2019. For those manufactures and retailers who find themselves not in compliance with the newly created law will face civil penalties of up to $1,000 for their first violations and up to $2,500 for second or subsequent violations.
As Illinois and various companies move to implement the law, New York, California, Ohio, Minnesota, and New Jersey are also are working on similar legislation. Illinois deserves credit for becoming the first state to ban microbeads and working successfully with the industry in reaching an end result that truly benefits everyone involved in the long run. Hopefully, other companies will follow the lead of Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Colgate, Unilever and L’Oreal who have committed to reformulate their products with more environmentally friendly exfoliates.