Are businesses ready for microbead ban?

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — Products containing microbeads are as easy to find sometimes as they are to miss.

Just because the product has small beads or particles in it doesn’t necessarily mean it contains microbeads. That’s why it’s important to turn it over and read the ingredients on the back.

Consumers should look for words like polyethylene or polypropylene. They’re most often associated with sparkles in toothpaste, or rubbing compounds in soaps and exfoliators.

They’re too small to be filtered out in wastewater treatment plants. As a result, thousands of pounds of these tiny plastic particles end up in Lake Erie.

“Plastic, as you know, stays around for a long, long time in the environment,” said Helen Domske, associate director of the Great Lakes Program. “I think it’s a very positive step that the legislators are taking to be proactive rather than waiting a number of years to see what the impact is. The science does show there is an impact.”

Erie legislators say they’re protecting the waterways, and acting as an example for New York state, which has refused to take up the issue for two consecutive years.

They’re also responding to a growing interest from the public.

“As someone who’s been interested in the health of the Great Lakes for most of my life, I would have to say that it’s a good thing because we can’t keep dumping things that have no end to them into the environment and expect the environment to stay healthy for us,” said Erin Pierce, of Amherst.

Erin says she tries to shop smart. But that can be tough sometimes.

“Occasionally, I have made an error. I admit it but I try to see things that only have the natural ingredients that will eventually break down,” Pierce said.

Local salons are responding as well. carries environmentally safe products free of microbeads. They say, that’s what the consumers want.

“There’s two products on our line that do have exfoliation in them, the beads,” said Rebecca Klein, an esthetician at Excuria Salon and Spa. “But they are environmentally safe, the package is environmentally safe. It’s ground olive seed, ground grapeseed, so it’s not going to cause any problems with the environment.”

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