A new law signed by President Obama on December 28, 2015 amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the manufacture and distribution of rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products (including toothpastes) that contain plastic microbeads.
The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 imposes bans beginning on:
• July 1, 2017 for manufacturing.
• July 1, 2018 for distributing.
• July 1, 2018 for manufacturing a rinse-off cosmetic that is also a nonprescription drug.
• July 1, 2019 for distributing a rinse-off cosmetic that is also a nonprescription drug.
The act defines a plastic microbead as “any solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body or any part thereof.”
Behind the Ban
Advocates of the legislation brought to bear scientific evidence that microbeads are a source of microplastic pollution, an increasing threat in US waterways. Microbeads used in rinse-off cosmetics are rinsed down the drain and enter waterways. The American Chemical Society conservatively estimates that 8 trillion microbeads (enough to cover over 300 tennis courts) are emitted into aquatic habitats in the United States each day. Plastic does not dissolve, so the beads continuously build up in the water. Microbeads can pose a threat to marine life, as the tiny beads can be mistaken for food.
For questions or assistance with U.S. FDA cosmetic regulations, contact WB Skinner at 201-644-7214.