California’s Microbead Ban, AB 888, was approved by the State Senate Friday. After several democratic Senators abstained from the first vote of Thursday – leaving the bill 2 votes shy of the 21 needed for passage – 5 Gyres and fellow co-sponsors of the bill launched a last minute citizen outreach campaign, generating thousand of emails and phone calls to key legislators.  The relentless pressure worked! When the final vote was tallied, 24 Senators cast their vote in support of the ban.

Photo: 5 Gyres

Photo: 5 Gyres

Because the bill was amended after being approved by the Assembly earlier in the year, it goes back to the Assembly for a concurrence vote this week. It will then head to the Governor’s desk for approval. We’re confident that the bill will pass these next two steps and become law soon.

AB 888 provides the strongest protections from plastic microbead pollution in the country. Unlike bans in states like Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Illinois, and Indiana, AB 888 bans all types of plastic microbeads, including so called “biodegradable plastics,” many of which do not biodegrade in the marine environment. The bill will encourage companies to shift towards more sustainable, naturally derived alternatives like sea salt, apricot pits and walnut husks. AB 888 would ban the sale of products containing plastic microbead by 2020.

Since CA is by far the largest market for consumer care products in the country, it is likely that Federal Legislation currently under consideration (HR 1312) will follow the CA model.

Microplastics. (Photo: 5 Gyres)

Microplastics. (Photo: 5 Gyres)

Thank you to our community of ocean enthusiasts, all of the co-sponsors of the bill, including Story of Stuff, Clean Water Action, Californians Against Waste, and the California Association of Sanitation Agencies. Also a big thank you to Assemblymember Bloom and his Legislative Director Guy Strahl for their commitment to passing this historic legislation.

Our research estimates their are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans. AB 888 begins to address this by stopping a significant source of plastic pollution at the source, before it ever has a chance to reach the oceans.

For more ocean, And less plastic.

Blake Kopcho

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

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