Affect Of Microbead Legislation Still Unclear For Commercial Cleaning Industry


Cleaning: Soap & Dispensers

With pending legislation on the horizon or already taking effect in some states, the Personal Care Products Council is seeing the companies it represents making a shift toward eliminating microbeads altogether.

"Our industry remains firmly committed to producing products that are safe for consumers, their families and the environment," the organization stated via a press release after legislation was announced in Illinois in 2014. "We look forward to continuing this important dialogue with policy makers and other groups that share in our commitment to establish a plastic microbeads phase-out plan that is acceptable to the Illinois legislature while minimizing marketplace disruptions for consumers."

According to the organization, an estimated two dozen or more states are expected to consider microbeads legislation. As such, it is supporting The Council of State Governments' proposal to set "a reasonable deadline for the industry to adequately phase out existing inventories and test and evaluate alternative materials that meet consumers' cleansing needs. Multiple inconsistent deadlines across the states would significantly hamper industry's efforts and undermine the goal of reducing the presence of microbeads in the environment."

What seems to be apparent is the drum beat for a national standard concerning microbeads.

"Once there is momentum on an issue, it often moves forward," says Maryland Del. Dan Morhaim, who sponsored legislation that met approval on both sides of the aisle and phases out microbeads in the state over the next few years. "As a practicing physician, I'm very cognizant of the impact of environment on public health."

Jennifer Caddick, engagement director at The Alliance for the Great Lakes, Chicago, also noted the industry's willingness to self-police.

She said major companies have agreed to voluntarily phase out using microbeads in their products, including Proctor & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Unilever. That might have something to do with the companies' customers.

"This is an issue that consumers have started raising a lot of concerns [over]," she says.

It's apparent legislation will affect the consumer market, but it is still unclear what influence, if any, it will have on the commercial cleaning industry.

"Legislation will have the greatest impact on the personal care product industry. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be looking very closely to see if there will be any impacts on the institutional and industrial cleaning product markets," says Brian Sansoni, vice president of communication, American Cleaning Institute, Washington, D.C.

Jonathan DePaolis is a freelance writer based in Frankfort, Illinois.