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Wisconsin Legislators Look To Ban Microbeads

Plastic In Beauty Products Affects Aquatic Life

Bharath Guvvala (CC-BY-NC)

State lawmakers appear poised to pass a bill that would ban the use of synthetic microbeads in products like soap and toothpaste.

The bill would ban the manufacture of personal care products with small, non-biodegradable plastic particles. These microbeads are added to soap to exfoliate dead skin, but they end up in lakes and oceans where they’re passed up the food chain by the aquatic life that eats them.

At a public hearing on the plan, Green Bay Republican Sen. Robert Cowles, who is sponsoring the bill, said he was concerned about what could happen as all of this plastic starts to accumulate.

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“We’re concerned about drinking water,” he said. “We’re concerned about what bits of plastic might be doing to our environment, and they simply shouldn’t be there.”

While the plan has broad support in principle, Kenosha Democratic Sen. Robert Wirch called it “weak tea” because it won’t take full effect until almost 2020. Wirch is sponsoring a similar plan that would take full effect two years earlier.