Green Groups Bat for Law Phasing Out Plastic Microbeads in Beauty Products

Two environmental groups today urged lawmakers to enact a law that will prohibit the manufacture of beauty products containing plastic microbeads that pollute the oceans, harm marine life and threaten public health.

Buoyed up by US President Barack Obama’s signing of the Microbead-Free Waters Act last December 28, the EcoWaste Coalition  and Oceana Philippines urged Congress to consider enacting a similar law that will ban plastic microbeads in cleansing products such as facial wash, shampoo and toothpaste.

According to the International Campaign against Microbeads in Cosmetics, “the microbeads used in personal care products are mainly made of polyethylene (PE), but can also be made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethyly methacrylate (PMMA) and nylon.”

“Our Congress should follow US regulatory action on plastic microbeads and pass our own Microbead-Free Waters Act,” said Sonia Mendoza, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Plastic microbeads in personal care products go straight to the drainage system and into water bodies and subsequently polluting the oceans with minuscule, non-biodegradable particles that are then eaten
by aquatic organisms who mistake them for eggs or plankton,” she explained.

“These microbeads, which are often smaller than 1 millimeter, attract and absorb hazardous substances and can be up to a million times more toxic than the water around them according to aquatic health researchers,” she pointed out.

“Phasing out plastic microbeads in personal care products will help reduce alarming microplastic pollution of our oceanic waters.  We hope that Congress will craft the necessary legislation and boost the growing movement against microbeads in cosmetics and for healthy fisheries and oceans,” said Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Vice-President, Oceana Philippines.

The groups noted that presidential candidate Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed Senate Bill 2135 that aims to “prohibit the production, manufacture, distribution and sale of any beauty product,
cosmetic or other personal care product containing plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in size.”

The groups urged lawmakers to look into the said bill and see how it can be adopted by the current Congress.

“Once in the water, microbeads, like other plastics, can attract and accumulate certain toxic chemicals commonly found in waters,” the bill’s explanatory note said.

“Environmental pollution found in waters, such as PCBs (the industrial pollutants polychlorinated biphenyls), gravitate and attach to the surface of plastic. If fish and wildlife species low on the food chain
eat these contaminated plastics, the chemicals might be passed on to larger birds, fish and other animals that people eat,” it explained.

The bill stipulates that “no person shall produce, manufacture, sell, or offer 17 for sale any personal cosmetic product which contains intentionally-added microbeads.”

As proposed, any person or corporation who violates the prohibition shall be civilly liable for penalty not to exceed fifty thousand pesos (P50,000) for each day during which such violation continues.

“These  plastic  microbeads  are  an  unnecessary  and  harmful product that  do  not belong  in  our  waterways,  and  should  be phased  out  of use  as  quickly  as  possible  thus urgent passage of
this bill is  earnestly sought,” Santiago said.