8 May 2015
New Jersey Becomes Second U.S. State to Ban Plastic Micro Beads in Personal Care Products
New Jersey recently became the second U.S. state after Illinois to ban the sale and manufacture of personal cosmetic products containing plastic micro beads. The term "micro bead" is defined in the legislation as any plastic component of a personal cosmetic product measured to be five millimetres or less in size. A personal cosmetic product is defined as an article intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, sprayed on, introduced into or otherwise applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance, as well as any item intended for use as a component thereof. Entities that violate the ban will be subject to a penalty between US$1,000 and US$10,000 for each offense, to be collected in a civil action by a summary proceeding.
New Jersey's ban will enter into force on 23 March 2017, or exactly two years from the date of enactment of the legislation. By comparison, Illinois' ban on micro bead-containing personal care products intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering one's appearance will enter into force on 31 December 2017, although the prohibition will not apply to the manufacturing of over-the-counter drugs until 31 December 2018 or the sale of over-the-counter drugs until 31 December 2019.
The New Jersey legislation indicates that bills have been introduced in New York, California, Michigan and other states to address the environmental concerns caused by micro beads. Water management facilities around the country are not capable of filtering small micro beads, which reportedly contain harmful toxins, flow through water treatment facilities and are directly deposited in waterways. Micro beads in open water appear edible to fish, which then eat the toxin-covered plastic particles. These fish are then consumed by other fish or humans, resulting in micro beads covered with toxins entering the food chain.