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News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Illinois Takes a Big Stand on Tiny Plastics

Posted On June 17, 2014 by

© Peter Hoffman / Aurora Photos

Last week, Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn signed state-wide legislation banning the manufacture and sale of cosmetic products containing synthetic microbeads. This legislation made Illinois the first state to take action against the harmful plastics, which are used as exfoliants in many personal care products including soaps, toothpastes and cleansers.

Governor Quinn’s strong stance against microbeads in cosmetics has major implications for the health of our ocean. All too frequently, these plastic bits find their way into the ocean where they pollute the water and are accidentally ingested by fish. Banning their manufacture and sale brings us one step closer to the trash free seas (and lakes) we deserve.

The Illinois microbead-ban isn’t in full effect until 2019, though several companies are working to phase out the tiny plastic particles before then. Until that time, consumers wishing to purchase products without microbeads should avoid items containing “polyethylene” or “polypropylene” in the ingredients list.

Illinois’ legislation is part of a greater trend towards limiting our consumption of single-use plastics. Four other states are considering similar bills, and several other states and cities have successfully implemented bag-bans/bag-taxes.

These policies are important for helping to regulate how much plastic we use, and subsequently how much plastic ends up in the ocean. I’m thrilled to see leaders in public office taking a stand against ocean trash, and I look forward to seeing a future where less plastic enters our ocean.