Ban The Bead

Did you know that many exfoliating personal care products including toothpaste and body scrubs contain plastic microbeads? These tiny little plastic pellets are ending up in our oceans, food and bodies with some dangerous impacts.

Plastic microbeads are being discovered in your food, oceans, lakes and even in humans! These little plastic pellets are easily replaced with organic materials like ground nut shells (like apricot scrubs), oatmeal, coffee grounds, sugar or good old fashioned baking soda.

Participants learn how to make microbead free facial scrubs. Just one of many easy solutions to eliminate wasteful microbeads. Thanks to the Soap Dispensary for hosting!  Photo courtesy of Jackie Dives.

Participants learn how to make microbead free facial scrubs. Just one of many easy solutions to eliminate wasteful microbeads. Thanks to the Soap Dispensary for hosting!  Photo courtesy of Jackie Dives.


Intro to Plastic Microbeads

Intro to Plastic Microbeads Plastic microbeads appear in many single use products including cosmetics, face washes, body scrubs, exfoliants, toothpastes, laundry and dishwasher detergents. Typically made of polypropylene, polyethylene, nylon or polyethylenephthalate these each product can contain over 300,000 plastic microbeads in one container (tube, bottle, box, etc). Measuring less than 1 millimeter in diameter the microbead is designed to last forever with an estimated life cycle of over 10,000 years. By contrast, the products that use these microbeads, such as toothpaste are used only once and designed to be washed down the drain.

Negative Impacts of Plastic Microbeads

Microbeads are a relatively new product on the market being first introduced about 15 years ago. Only recently research has discovered risks to infrastructure, ecosystems, animals and humans. With research only beginning to assess these risks it is anticipated that greater damages will be discovered the longer the product stay on the market.

What Has Been Done?

In June 2014 Surfrider Vancouver launched Canada’s first campaign to ban microbeads, called “Ban The Bead”. Volunteers reached out to officials at the City of Vancouver, the BC Ministry of Environment, BC MLAs and federal Members of Parliament. In February 2015 the federal NDP, then the official party of opposition, proposed that microbeads be considered toxic. On March 24, 2015 the House of Commons unanimously passed a resolution to add microbeads to Canada’s ist of Toxic Substances and Environment Canada was mandated to complete a review on microbeads. A summary of their findings can be found by clicking on the button below.

Now, Environment Canada is wrapping up the final steps of the review process with a public consultation which closes on March 10, 2016. A full copy of the process can be found by clicking on the button below.

What's Next?

To date Environment Canada has only received 200 letters from individuals and more from industry stakeholders across Canada. Some stakeholders are seeking to undermine the legislation by not including detergent products like dishwasher and laundry soaps. Additionally, just like in the state of Illinois, there is a quiet movement to ensure that the current ban will not include “bio­plastics”, plastics made from plants. Bio­plastic microbeads have been found to pose the same harm, and in some cases greater harm, to humans, environment, animals and infrastructure alike. Similarly, “biodegradable” plastics are still plastics and designed to “photodegrade” or break down in sunlight. Since we know microbeads are washing down the drain and ending up in our waterways they are not able to biodegrade and, once again, pose the same risk as conventional plastics. We need to take action now to ensure these loopholes are left open in Canadian legislation.

How Can I Help?

You have until March 10, 2016 to make an impact on this important issue. Here is how you can get involved:

1. Sign this petition and we will email the Environment Canada Products Division responsible for this legislation:

2. Share this weblink with two friends on social media and ask them to get involved. Use hashtag #BanTheBeadCanada to enter and win a $50 Patagonia gift card!

3. Send a email to your local MP and ask them to tell Environment Canada that microbeads are:

  • any detergent or personal care product design to wash down the drain
  • any plastic particle, including plant based plastics and biodegradable plastics
  • ask them to email Environment Canada before March 10, 2016

Find your local Member of Parliament using your postal code by clicking on the button below and entering your postal code.

Contact us here to find out more or join us at our next event!