This Wednesday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz signed a law prohibiting the sale of “microbead” products in the county, mandating that only “macrobeads” would be allowed.
The law, sponsored by Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke and co-sponsored by Legislator John Mills, received some assistance by Poloncarz’s office. A popular ingredient in beauty and personal care products such as liquid soaps and toothpastes, these small, plastic particles cannot be filtered by most water treatment plants and are polluting the Great Lakes and other bodies of water. There, these particles are mistaken as food by fish, and the entire food chain can be at risk, harming sea-life and possibly humans who eat such affected seafood.
The first law of it’s type in New York State, there is also stalled federal legislation to address the issue. Many maufacturers and retail establishments are putting plans in place to phase out such particles, but the Erie County law does make exception for so-called “macrobeads” which are much larger particles, which can range from marble-sized to even “I Got It” ball size.
Today, Erie County leads the way in protecting one of our greatest natural resources, The Great Lakes. We don’t have to wait for the federal government to do the right thing. Any product that removes microbeads can use macrobeads, as long as the beads cannot leave the container their product comes in. Such macrobeads provide no exfoliating benefit, but won’t fit down sink drains, and cannot be flushed, so why anyone would consider them, I have no idea. But we do believe in compromise, so if you want beads, you got em. Just don’t ruin it for the rest of us.
Poloncarz signed the law into effect at the end of Wilkenson Point on Buffalo’s outer harbor, picture below.