Atlantic Ocean. (Image: Tiago Fioreze / WikiMedia Commons)

Atlantic Ocean. (Image: Tiago Fioreze / WikiMedia Commons)

This post was written by Carolynn Box

Many of you were with us last year when we introduced the first bills in the US to ban plastic microbeads from consumer products, based on our scientific findings of high concentrations of microplastics in the Great Lakes. You helped us engage manufacturers in the issue, rally policymakers and NGOs to lead the charge, and spread the word.

You also witnessed the devastating loss of this bill by one vote on the Senate Floor due to last minute confusion spread by industry lobbyists, represented by the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), who were determined stop our bill in its tracks.

This year, in an unexpected turn of events, the same industry has approached lawmakers across the country, from Hawaii to Maine, with their own version of a microbead ban.

Sound too good to be true? It is.

By subtly tweaking the definition of what constitutes a plastic microbead, industry sponsored bills create a loophole that would allow cosmetic companies to switch out traditional polyethylene microbeads for other types of pernicious plastics, such as compostable plastics (which absolutely do not biodegrade in the marine environment) and the type used in cigarette filters. This is greenwashing at its finest (most deceitful). If the PCPC has its way, we could see a patchwork of statewide laws that fail to accomplish the one and only objective of microbead bans; to keep plastic off of our faces and out of our waterways.

Ready for the good news yet?

5 Gyres has teamed up with a coalition of leading environmental groups and clean water agencies to introduce a bill that would ban all types of plastic microbeads in consumer care products in the state of California.

If we pass a comprehensive ban in just one large state, the scales will tip in our favor and we will prevail over the behemoth that is the cosmetics industry. But to make it happen, we are going to need your help. Over the next several months, 5 Gyres and its coalition partners will educate lawmakers about the dangers of allowing this “bioplastics loophole” and  activate the grassroots support necessary to pass the strongest microbead ban in the country here in California.

So please keep in touch! You will be hearing from us soon with powerful actions for you to take and creative ways that you can get involved to ensure that this year, we win.

You can even get started right now:

1) Make a donation to support our work

2) Sign our petition to stop microbead pollution

3) Contact 5 Gyres to volunteer – we’re looking for online ambassadors to help us spread the word (email [email protected])

Why is this so important for the oceans?

Our recent publication estimating over 5 trillion pieces (yes, with a t) of plastic in the earth’s oceans has shocked – but not surprised – those of us dedicated to mitigating the emerging global plastic crisis.  Our research indicates that there is not one square mile of ocean on the planet, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Alaska, that is not polluted with plastic.

This sobering news, along with recent discoveries of alarming amounts of plastic inArctic ice, sea beds and on islands across the world have us asking “how can we possibly tackle a problem of this magnitude?”

Because plastic is ubiquitous in our society, solutions to plastic pollution are complex.  But when the bathtub is overflowing – as the ocean is with plastic – the first thing to do is turn off the faucet. This bill is a great step in that direction.

(This post originally appeared on 5 Gyres. It has been reprinted here with permission.)

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