Canada’s ban on the manufacture and import of toiletries that contain plastic microbeads officially came into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, in a big win for the environment.
In June 2016, the government officially listed plastic microbeads as a toxic substance under the Environmental Protection Act, which marked the beginning of the end for the troublesome little beads.
Microbeads were once used in many beauty products, including face soap, shower gel, toothpaste, nail polish, and body lotions. They are tiny plastic beads that generally act as exfoliants or fillers and that often end up in our waters, according to the Globe and Mail.
Take Action: Pledge to Take 3 For the Sea
When you use your morning face cleanser, for example, the beads make their way down the drain and are normally too small to be caught and removed by wastewater treatment system filters, which means they can end up in rivers, lakes, and oceans, according to Complex Canada.
Microbeads have been found in many waterways where they can absorb persistent organic pollutants (POPs), according to research from the Friends of Taputeranga Marine Reserve Trust.
POPs are chemicals that have negative effects on human health and the environment. Pesticides like DDT are an example of a common POP, according to the World Health Organization.
Not only do marine life, like fish, consume these microbeads once they've landed in the water, but humans also then consume the polluted fish.
Research found there were 1.1 million microbeads per square kilometre in Lake Ontario, according to the Globe and Mail.
Microbeads have also been used in cleaning products, printing toners, textile printing, and more, according to Environment Canada.
The ban that went into effect at the start of this year is a step towards eliminating yet another toxic substance from our waters.
Currently, microbeads are still permitted to be manufactured and imported for non-prescription drugs and certain natural health products, but they will also be banned as of July 1, 2018, according to the Government of Canada.
Global Citizen campaigns on environmental issues, knowing that a healthy environment gives people the opportunity to thrive. You can take action here.