By Jess Seabolt
INDIANAPOLIS – Tiny pieces of plastic used to exfoliate skin are creating big problems for the environment and so legislation to ban the beauty product ingredient is moving through the General Assembly.
House Bill 1185, authored by Rep. Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, defines a “synthetic plastic microbead” as a spherical object that is five millimeters or less in diameter and not biodegradable. The bill would prevent the sale of any products containing the beads after Dec. 31, 2017.
That could impact common beauty products including face wash, body wash and toothpastes that often include the beads to give them exfoliating properties.
Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said that microbeads and its effects are a nationwide issue.
“They’re real small pieces of plastic that don’t dissolve and get into our water systems, into the streams, are eaten by fish or wildlife and end up in our bodies,” Charbonneau said. “And so it’s a significant concern.”
Charbonneau said the issue has been on the agenda of legislatures around the country since 2012, and several states are already pushing similar legislation forward.
“Illinois last year passed legislation to deal with it,” Charbonneau said.
The Alliance for the Great Lakes is pushing additional states to take action. And already, the companies that make the products have said they will begin phasing them out.
“The producers have already started looking for replacement ingredients,” Charbonneau said. “They’ve already identified them and many have already begun the process of eliminating the microbeads from their products.”
And because of this proactive replacement, Charbonneau said the bill might not have much of an effect if it’s passed.
Still, without much opposition, Charbonneau said he anticipates “that the bill will hopefully pass.”
The bill has already passed the House and is eligible for a vote by the full Senate. The vote could happen as early as Monday.
Jess Seabolt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.