Environment Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5286

Title:

AN ACT PROHIBITING THE IMPORT AND SALE OF COSMETICS THAT CONTAIN MICROBEADS.

Vote Date:

3/20/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/11/2015

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE

REASONS FOR BILL:

To amend the general statutes for the purpose of prohibiting both the import and sale of cosmetics that contain microbeads in order to protect the state's water resources and aquatic species from pollution posed by microbeads. Many common household products contain small beads of plastic that, after entering our sewer systems, end up in soil, drinking water, and aquatic animals such as fish.

Substitute Language: Adds the requirement that microbeads be eliminated from Over The Counter Drugs. Lowers the amount of the fine for a violation. LCO 5648.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

None Expressed.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Louis W. Burch, Connecticut Program Coordinator for Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Microbeads are tiny plastic particles used as abrasive or exfoliating agents in over 100 different personal care products, including facial scrubs, soaps, cosmetics, and even toothpaste. Once consumed and washed down the drain, they flow into rivers, streams, and even the ocean. Scientists have found microplastic particles in every major waterway in the world. Microbeads, like other polluting plant-based plastics, do not biodegrade. The danger they pose to the environment far outweighs their benefits .

Stiv J. Wilson, Campaigns Director, The Story Of Stuff Project.

Within a month of entering the environment, microplastic can be up to a million times more toxic than the ambient water surrounding it because it works like a sponge for other toxic chemicals in the water. Once ingested, these toxins are difficult to purge, resulting in each subsequent generation carrying a higher toxic burden which is transported up the food chain. There is a lack of commitment from the cosmetic industry to eliminate this plastic as they opt instead for loopholes for so-called biodegradable plastic, such as PLA. Trying to replace plastic with plastic is a bait and switch tactic that will present the same threat to the ecosystem that this legislation is meant to stop.

Chris Phelps, State Director for Environment Connecticut.

Tiny plastic microbeads contained in cosmetics and personal care products end up washed down the drain daily and into waterways, becoming a significant source of plastic pollution. Jurisdictions worldwide have begun to take action to restrict or ban use of microbeads in response to the growing awareness of the threat they pose to the environment.

Melissa Gates, Northeast Regional Manager, Surfrider Foundation.

The presence of microplastic in the environment is alarming because it does not biodegrade, but rather absorbs toxic chemicals, such as DDT, etc., creating a hazardous polluting multiplier effect. Fish become contaminated by the plastic's absorbed toxins which bioaccumulate up the food chain negatively impacting animals who feed on fish, including humans. Microbeads must be banned, without exceptions, and sooner rather than later.

Leah Lopez Schmalz, Program Director, Connecticut Fund for the Environment (CFE).

CFE strongly supports the prohibition of plastic microbeads in all non-prescription and cosmetic products. Once flushed down the drain, microbeads enter the environment through sewage overflows or by flowing through treatment plants unequipped to filter them out. Fish and aquatic wildlife sometimes eat the microbeads which are then absorbed and stored in the fatty tissues and ultimately passed up the food chain, including to humans. Several major manufacturers have already begun to eliminate plastic microbeads in favor of non-polluting alternatives, in recognition of their environmental harm.

Margaret Miner, Executive Director, Rivers Alliance of Connecticut.

The Alliance urges a rapid prohibition of an unnecessary lethal product. Microbeads add to the plastic soup fouling the seas by attracting and retaining their toxins many times their mass; consequently, they become increasingly lethal in water bodies.

Mary Jane Williams, Ph.D., RN, Chairperson of Government Relations Committee for the Connecticut Nurses Association (CNA).

Microbeads are plastic, create plastic waste, and are damaging the ecosystem. The one state to ban microbeads so far, Illinois, did so through a cooperative effort with industry players, an encouraging precursor for other states pushing comparable laws. It could take as few as two more states to pass similar bans for the industry effect to be felt nationwide. Connecticut needs to be one of the progressive states that ban microbeads.

Karin Ross, Personal Care Products Council (PCPC).

PCPC, with over 600 member companies, is the leading trade association for cosmetics and personal care products. The Council takes the presence of microbeads in waterways so seriously that its members voluntarily committed to discontinue formulating with microbeads in favor of other viable alternatives. PCPC, while supporting the concept of this bill, would encourage consistency with other states with regard to clear definitions and adequate time for manufacturers to comply. A reasonable timeframe ensures manufacturers of all size sufficient time to reformulate with alternative ingredients that are safe and meet the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requirements.

Clarice Begemann, APRN.

The poor is the demographic population that often bears the brunt of envirotoxins. Poor people eat a lot of fish from the Quinnipiac river, with PCB's, mercury, and other toxins, because fish is an inexpensive way to obtain protein rich meals for their families.

Action Forum. The following residents at Seabury Retirement Community in Bloomfield, CT, who are extremely concerned about the environment and global warming, signed on to support the bill:

Doris Armstrong

Ingrid Boelhouwer

Anne Brock

Ken Brock

Mims Butterworth

Kathy Carle

Betty Cornish

Joan Cox

Alice Cruikshank

Peer Cruikshank

Kiki Eglinton

Carol Fine

Sara Foster

Peggy Igleheart

Shirley Keezing

Elaine Luckey

Bobby Taylor

Dick Watson

Pat Zwerling

Steve Zwerling

The following members of the public expressed support for HB 5286:

Flo Vannoni, Redding, CT

Bebe McCarthy, Ridgefield, CT

Hugh Karraker, Redding, CT

Blake A. Kopcho, The 5 Gyres Institute.

Marty Isaac

Rich Phillips

Mrs. Roseann M. Sholanich, Stratford, CT

Clarinda Higgins, Westport, CT

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Sean Moore, Associate Director, State Government Affairs, Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA).

CHPA is not opposed to a phase-out of plastic microbeads from OTC medications but does encourage uniform state solutions that would avoid a patchwork of differing laws. By mirroring the existing law in Illinois, Connecticut could mandate microbeads be phased out while ensuring reasonable effective dates and uniform definition of key terms. CHPA is opposed to the bill unless and until it is amended to include these two recommendations.

Reported by: Madeline Grabinski

Date: March 25, 2015