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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: June 22, 2015 08:00 PM
From: Senator Sean Wiley and Sen. Richard L. Alloway, II, Sen. Gene Yaw
To: All Senate members
Subject: Microplastics ban
In the near future, we plan to introduce legislation to prohibit the manufacture, sale, or promotion of personal care products containing microplastics. Last session, the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee heard testimony about the devastating effect of microplastics on marine life. This bill is a product of that conversation.

As the name implies, microplastics are microscopic pieces of plastic that are used in personal care products such as toothpaste and facial cleansers. Also known as microbeads, these plastics are small enough to pass through wastewater treatment equipment, riddling our waterways, and at times absorbing other pollutants. Tragically, when fish mistake these plastics for food, they accumulate in their digestive systems, killing them. When those fish are, in turn, consumed by people, we may also consume those toxic chemicals. Recently, Dr. Sherri Mason, a chemistry professor and Environmental Sciences Program Coordinator at the State University of New York at Fredonia, found that Lake Erie had higher concentrations of microplastics than any other body of water on Earth.

In 2014, the first microplastics ban became law in Illinois with similar legislation having been introduced in other Great Lakes states such as New York, Ohio, Michigan, and Minnesota. We are encouraged that leaders in the chemical and personal care products industry have begun reducing and eliminating the use of microplastics in favor of organic materials such as seeds, shells, and even cocoa beans. That said, considering the great risk that microplastics pose to marine life and humans, we believe their manufacture, sale, and promotion should be eliminated.

We hope you will join us.

Introduced as SB672