We Did It!
With your help, we banned the bead in Canada.
Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic used in thousands of cosmetic and hygiene products. As the alleged ‘cure’ to our issues with dry skin and tooth decay, microbeads cause a lot more problems than they ‘solve’.
They swim down our bathroom sinks, squeeze through our water filtration systems and head straight to the ocean. To top it off, microbeads have a lifespan of 10,000 years.
Similarly to organic matter, the beads can adsorb persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from the marine environment, which are pretty darn harmful if you ingest them.
What Did We Do About Them?
In June 2014, Surfrider Vancouver ran a campaign called ‘Ban the Bead’, Canada’s first campaign against microbeads. We encouraged the public to sign and share a petition against the use of microbeads.
Our volunteers reached out to officials at the City of Vancouver and the BC Ministry of Environment regarding the issue. In February 2015, the federal NDP proposed that microbeads be considered toxic.
On March 24, 2015 the House of Commons unanimously passed a resolution to add microbeads to Canada’s list of Toxic Substances. Environment Canada was also mandated to complete a review on microbeads.
In June 2017, Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The regulations include:
‘As of January 1, 2018, the manufacture and import of toiletries that contain plastic microbeads will be prohibited unless the toiletries are also natural health products or non-prescription drugs, in which case the prohibition will begin July 1, 2018.’
‘As of July 1, 2018, the sale of toiletries that contain plastic microbeads will be prohibited, unless the toiletries are also natural health products or non-prescription drugs, in which case the prohibition will begin July 1, 2019.’
So What's Next?
Even though microbeads are now on the same toxicity list as arsenic and asbestos, they’re still out there…
Microbeads are still in a number of products produced pre-ban. So check the label, and avoid buying anything containing the following:
Say NO to...
- Polyethylene (PE)
- Polypropylene (PP)
- Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
- Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
- Nylon (PA)
If you’re wondering what to do with products in your bathroom that already contain microbeads, just don’t empty them down the sink. Slightly defeats the whole point. As outlined in the Regulations Report, if the product is in a recyclable container, empty the contents into the garbage and recycle the container accordingly.
DIY skincare products, you say?
Designed to exfoliate dead skin and teeth, cosmetic microbeads are attempting to do the same job of their natural counterparts. Sea salt, sand, coffee grounds, brown sugar, coconut fibre, apricot pits, baking soda (the list goes on) are already the world’s best exfoliators!
Take a browse through some of these DIY exfoliators. Not only do they leave no trace on the environment, but they’re cheap to make, smell outstanding, and you can finally get those little glass jars from pinterest to store them in:
Are Microbeads Banned In Your Country?
Check out Beat The Microbead to see the most recent developments in banning the bead worldwide - is your Country following suit?