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A.G. Schneiderman Offers Consumer Tips On How To Avoid Personal Care Products Containing Plastic Microbeads

Consumers Can Protect New York’s Waters From Plastic Pollution By Refusing To Buy Toothpastes, Scrubs Containing Microbeads; Pamphlet Lists Tips To Identify Products With Microbeads

A.G. Schneidermerman: While We Seek To Ban The Bead Via Legislation, Consumers Can Take Action

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a new pamphlet released by his office aimed at helping consumers choose personal care products that do not contain this known form of plastic pollution. Titled “Microbeads Megaproblem: Keep Your Home Free of Plastic Microbeads,” the pamphlet offers information for New York consumers on how to identify and avoid personal care products that contain microbeads that are less than five millimeters in size and commonly slip through water treatment plants, entering New York’s waterways.

The pamphlet is being issued as a guide to consumers while the New York State Senate considers the Attorney General’s Microbead-Free Waters Act (S3932-2015). If passed, the legislation would prohibit the distribution and sale of personal cosmetic products containing microbeads in New York. The state Assembly passed the bill in April and is currently co-sponsored by 34 State Senators, two more than the majority needed for passage.

“From the Great Lakes to the Long Island Sound, New York’s waterways are invaluable resources that must be protected from avoidable forms of pollution like microbeads,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We need legislation to ban the bead. In the meantime, these tips will help consumers fight the bead and protect our natural resources, our wildlife, and our outdoor economy – preserving them for generations of New Yorkers to come.”

Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic that are added to over one hundred personal care products sold in the United States, including face scrubs and toothpastes. The Attorney General’s pamphlet offers three easy steps to help fight microbead pollution by choosing not to wash your face and brush your teeth with plastic.

  • Check the ingredient list of person care products you have at home or plan to buy.The most common type of plastic microbead will be listed on the ingredient list as “polyethylene.” Other products may include “polypropylene” or “nylon” microbeads. 
  • Check your product against a list of products containing microbeads:The Beat the Microbead campaign has developed lists of products that contain microbeads.
  • Download the Beat the Microbead App:You can download an App to scan the barcode of any personal care product with your smartphone camera and check to see if it contains microbeads before purchase.

“Plastic Soup Foundation applauds the efforts of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to ban microbeads in personal care products and help consumers make informed decisions on how to avoid products containing them,” said Maria Westerbos, director from the international organization Plastic Soup Foundation, creator of the Ban the Microbead campaign and App. “Plastic Soup Foundation has developed product lists together with 69 NGOs from 33 countries so that citizens across the globe can take part in efforts to quickly phase out microbeads, starting with their own medicine cabinet. We encourage every New Yorker to use these tools to rid microbeads from their lives and waters.”

Beat the Microbeadconsumer tools, including the list and the App, can be found at: www.beatthemicrobead.org.

Two reports issued by Attorney General Schneiderman’s Office in the last year detail pollution caused by microbeads in New York, including the fact that nearly 19 tons of these plastic bits are washed down New York drains each year, and that most wastewater treatment plants in New York are not designed to stop the tiny beads from flowing into our waters, including the Long Island Sound, the Great Lakes and the Hudson River. Once in the environment, microbeads persist for decades. They accumulate toxic chemical pollutants, including PCBS, on their surface and, when consumed by fish and wildlife, serve as a pathway for pollutants to enter the food chain.