After the New Jersey Assembly passed it unanimously last month, a state Senate committee intends to consider a bill banning the manufacture and sale of microbeads.
The tiny plastic particles are used in a variety of consumer products including cleansers and toothpaste. It’s estimated that a tube of facial scrub could contain as many as 300,000 microbeads.
Wastewater-treatment plants aren’t equipped to filter out the microbeads that go down the drain and end up in the ocean, said Cassandra Ornell, the staff scientist for Clean Ocean Action.
“They can be eaten by a range of marine species, ranging from mussels and other invertebrates to small fish,” she said. “Then any contaminants that are in the microbeads could possibly be transferred to that animal, and then that could also possibly be magnified up the food chain.”
A Chemistry Council of New Jersey official said Wednesday that companies it represents have pledged to stop using microbeads.
And sponsors of the legislation have agreed to include amendments that would give companies time to sell the products that have already been manufactured.
“The companies obviously want to sell through their existing stock that has been been manufactured,” said Ed Waters of the Chemistry Council. “Then reformulation takes a little longer because these products are applied to the skin, so we want to make sure there’s no allergic reactions when people purchase these products.”
Several states already have banned use of the microbeads, while others are considering legislation.
A Senate committee will consider the New Jersey bill Thursday.