Senators Stabenow, Peters Introduce Bill to Keep Plastic Beads out of Great Lakes

Legislation Will Stop Production of Microbeads Consumed by Fish and Wildlife

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced legislation to protect the Great Lakes from pollution caused by small, plastic microbeads that are ingredients in certain soaps and personal care products. These microbeads are able to get through water treatment facilities and end up floating in the Great Lakes, where they can build up as plastic pollution and are often mistaken for food by fish. The Microbeads Free Waters Act of 2015 protects the Great Lakes by phasing out the manufacture and sale of microbeads found in household products. Congressmen Fred Upton (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) are sponsors of the companion bill introduced in U.S. House of Representatives.

"Microbeads seem like a nice way to get extra ‘scrub' in your soap, but they pose a very real danger to our Great Lakes," said Senator Stabenow, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. "Researchers are finding these bits of plastic building up in our lakes, rivers and streams. When we see these kinds of things are threatening our Great Lakes and potentially threatening fish populations, we need to take swift action."

"Millions of tiny synthetic plastic microbeads from products like face wash and toothpaste are being discharged into Michigan's waterways, jeopardizing the Great Lakes ecosystem that our state depends on," said Senator Peters, member of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force. "These non-biodegradable microbeads are acting as a magnet for other dangerous pollutants that threaten the health of our Great Lakes and are then being consumed by fish, birds and other wildlife. I am pleased to support this commonsense, bipartisan effort to phase out the unnecessary use of these plastic microbeads in consumer products, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this critical legislation."

This bipartisan bill is sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Additional cosponsors include Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).

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.