Proposed law would ban products containing plastic microbeads

May 28, 2015

Cosmetics and other products that end up polluting local waterways could soon be banned from store shelves in Erie County.

Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke says plastic microbeads are becoming a major pollutant in Lake Erie.
Credit Chris Caya/WBFO news

More than 100 personal care products, including facial scrubs and toothpaste, contain tiny pieces of plastic known as microbeads. They're hardly visible as they slip through most wastewater treatment plants.  

"Nearly 90 percent of new plastic pollutants in Lake Erie are from microbeads," said Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke on Wednesday.

Burke says the State Senate has failed to act more than a year after the Attorney General issued a report on the dangers posed by the plastic, which is likely being consumed by fish and wildlife and making it way up the food chain.

Burke, a South Buffalo Democrat, is now proposing a local ban on products containing microbeads. He says it has bipartisan support, including that of Legislature Chairman John Mills.

"We're putting the state on notice to act swiftly if they can but we are not slowing down with this piece of legislation and we're going to move it through as quickly as possible," he said  

Burke says a public hearing on the ban could be held in the coming weeks.

Click here for a list of products containing microbeads.