For many years, industry marketed “Apricot Scrubs” containing ground walnut shells to perform physical exfoliation for the skin. These products especially appealed to the “natural” products market, but tended to be difficult to make, and the ground shells often were contaminated with mold or bacteria, and needed special handling to assure a safe product resulted.

Along came Microbeads, small plastic particles of various diameters, which were more elegant, easier and safer to use. Problem solved. Who would have predicted what was next?

Along came an article in the Los Angeles Times., and identification of microbeads in the Great Lakes. It has not been determined precisely if they are indeed coming from Cosmetics/personal care products. However, cosmetics were easy to target since they are perceived to be frivolous products.

Interestingly, California was not the first area to legislate their removal. Illinois, bordering the Great Lakes, passed legislation, working closely with the Industry through the Personal Care Products Council, negotiating a reasonable timeline for all concerned. The immediate problem of a short-term ban was abated.

The supply chain of new regulations continues to move downstream. The most impactful legislation now is Erie County, NY which has now enacted a law which specifies a sales ban of products containing microbeads, effective February 14, 2016. Product must be removed from retail shelves and other consumer distribution channels by that date. In case a company is planning to move the product they can no longer sell in Buffalo, don’t plan to ship it to Canada, who is already working on their own ban under their environmental law.

Not enough fun yet? Now environmentalists are targeting microfibers, such as those found in cleansing wipes.

Stay tuned!