How much do micro beads in exfoliating products actually pollute? According to governmental officials and environmentalists in New York and California, a lot. Assessing the impact these tiny plastic particles have on marine ecosystems, experts propose their complete ban in these two states, in order to prevent future major environmental disaster.
Just over a year after one of the major cosmetics manufacturer, Unilever NV, announced that they will remove microplastics from their cosmetic products by the end of 2015, attorney generals are also getting on board to fight water pollution. The major changes in the legislation of New York and California, were proposed as a drastic measure against tiny plastic particles that pass through the water purifying systems and end up directly in the aquatic environment.
But the ban will not apply only to sales, or at least not in New York. There, the proposed changes will also affect the manufacturing process, not allowing makers of cosmetics to use any microplastics smaller than 5 millimeters in their products.
The environmentalists in 5gyres are the people behind the proposed changes. The guys have been studying quite extensively the impact microplastics have on water bodies and marine organisms, and have established that there is no way, given the existing technologies, to prevent these tiny plastics for entering the ecosystem. There is no difference between dumping large plastic waste directly or letting these micro beads flow into the oceans. The only ways to remove them is either by expensive manual clean-up, or by letting aquatic organisms consume them.
In any case, there is no good and cost-effective way to do this, except banning the manufacturing, sales and usage of the products that contain them. Although it might seem drastic, the decision made by the officials in the two states is the best for the environment. Hopefully, many others will follow soon and take the problem of water pollution seriously, at last.
Image (c) 5gyres