Senators Stabenow, Peters Applaud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Bill to Keep Plastic Beads Out of Great Lakes

Legislation Will Go To President’s Desk for Signature

Friday, December 18, 2015

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today applauded the U.S. Senate’s unanimous passage of the bipartisan Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which will protect the Great Lakes from pollution caused by small, plastic microbeads that are ingredients in certain soaps and personal care products. The legislation, which was sponsored by Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. It will phase out the manufacturing of products with microbeads, which get through water treatment facilities and are harmful to fish and wildlife. This bill is similar to companion legislation that Senators Stabenow and Peters introduced earlier this year.

“Today’s vote is great news for our Great Lakes, which are critical to our economy and Michigan way of life” said Senator Stabenow, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “Microbeads pose a very real danger to our Great Lakes and threaten our fish and wildlife populations. This bipartisan bill is an important step in keeping our wildlife protected and our waters safe.”

“This commonsense, bipartisan effort to phase out microbeads in consumer products like face wash and toothpaste is an important step toward protecting our Great Lakes,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. “Synthetic plastic microbeads amplify the effects of pollution and threaten wildlife in the Great Lakes ecosystem. I’m pleased that my Senate colleagues are sending this vital measure to the President’s desk to ensure our Great Lakes continue to thrive.”

Microbeads from products like face washes and toothpaste often end up floating in the Great Lakes, where they can build up as plastic pollution and are often mistaken for food by fish.  A report by the State University of New York in Fredonia found anywhere from 1,500 to 1.1 million microbeads per square mile in the Great Lakes, the world’s largest source of freshwater.