Microbeads are in a small percentage of overall skincare products related to the jan/san industry. They are found in many personal care cleaning products including hand soaps, toothpastes, facial scrubs and body washes, but they are also present in heavy-duty soaps for industrial facilities.

The issue with microbeads, which are solid plastic particles and are less than 5 millimeters in diameter, is they do not dissolve. Microbeads end up in waterways where fish mistake the tiny balls for food. Eating a microbead puts the fish’s life in danger. In addition, when a person eats the fish, they could be harmed as some pollutants microbeads pick up have been connected with birth defects, cancer and developmental problems.

The Congressional ban on manufacturing of products with microbeads begins on July 1, 2017, and the sale of such items is banned beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

“Companies involved announced plans to phase out (microbeads) and the industry was supportive of change,” says Sansoni.

Alternative ingredients to the plastic beads include pumice stone or walnut shells. The Personal Care Products Council also recommends materials made from “beeswax, rice bran wax, jojoba wax, seaweed, clay, and starches derived from corn, tapioca and carnauba.”

WAXIE carries a few products with microbeads and is in the process of phasing them out. The company expects to be done by March.

“We identified the products that have microbeads and are making changes in the formula,” says Schneringer. “We will be through our old supply shortly.”

Customers have been contacted about the changes and the process has gone smoothly.

For the next few months, distributors will need to contact their customers about the ingredient changes for all affected soap products and adjust their product stock accordingly. Based on reports from distributors who have already begun these steps, the process has been a smooth one.

Larry Bernstein is a freelance writer based in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.

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