Environmental Defence has issued a statement to applaud the federal government’s decision to add microbeads to the Schedule 1 list of toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), enabling the government to regulate the substance. The government can now move on regulations to ban microbeads under CEPA.
Microbeads are toxic and unnecessary additions to personal care products like toothpaste and body wash. They may contain toxic substances such as phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA) that become absorbed on their surface, and can be consumed by fish and birds.
Researchers from the State University of New York estimate that Lake Ontario contains 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometre of lake bottom.
Several large companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Loblaw have announced that they will phase-out the use of these microplastics, effectively eliminating economic arguments for delaying a ban on these substances.
On December 28, 2015, U.S. President Obama signed a bill requiring that American manufacturers end the use of microbeads in products by July 1, 2017. The bill will also end the sale of products containing microbeads in the U.S. by July 1, 2018. Today’s announcement will enable the Canadian government to better align our regulation of microbeads with the U.S., in terms of the definition of the size of microbeads, and how quickly they can be removed from the market.
This announcement also comes at a time when CEPA is being reviewed by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development. We are calling for improvements to risk management under the act to make sure toxic substances are removed from products in a timely manner.