4 Dec 2015
House Committee Approves Bill to Ban Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics
The House Energy and Commerce Committee on 18 November approved an amended version of a bill (H.R. 1321) originally introduced by Rep. Frank Pallone (Democrat-New Jersey) that would ban the manufacture and sale of rinse-off cosmetic products that contain intentionally-added plastic microbeads.
The term “plastic microbead” is defined in the legislation as any solid plastic particle that is less than five millimetres in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body or any part thereof. The term “rinse-off cosmetic” includes toothpaste but excludes any drug subject to the requirements of section 503(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and that is not a cosmetic. The ban would enter into force on 1 July 2017 with respect to manufacturing and 1 July 2018 with respect to the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce. These deadlines would be extended by one year for rinse-off cosmetics that are non-prescription drugs.
Importantly, the legislation would pre-empt the numerous state bans that have been adopted in response to the growing environmental concerns caused by plastic microbeads. At least seven U.S. states – California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland and New Jersey – have enacted bans or other restrictions on plastic microbeads in personal care products and many others are considering similar legislation, further increasing the pressure for a federal ban. Enacted into law on 8 October, the California legislation forbids effective from 1 January 2020 the sale and offer for sale of personal care products containing plastic microbeads that are used to exfoliate or cleanse in a rinse-off product, including toothpaste.
Meanwhile, many cosmetics companies have already eliminated or are in the process of phasing out the use of plastic microbeads in their products. The American Chemistry Council, which represents domestic chemicals manufacturers, welcomed the approval of H.R. 1321 by the Energy and Commerce Committee as part of a bi-partisan effort to establish strong, consistent national standards to phase out plastic microbeads from rinse-off personal care products. Given the apparent wide-ranging consensus for a ban among industry interests, environmental groups and state and federal lawmakers, environmentally hazardous microbeads will almost certainly completely disappear from personal care products within a few years.