CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Sunday that he says gives Illinois the distinction as the first state in the nation to ban the sale and manufacture of soaps and cosmetics containing microbeads.
Synthetic plastic microbeads – billed as a way to exfoliate or scrub surfaces – are found in facial cleansers, body washes and even some toothpastes. But environmental experts have raised concerns of plastic pollution in waterways, saying microbeads can build up and accumulate toxic chemicals that could threaten the food chain.
The new Illinois law seeks to prohibit the manufacture of such products by the end of 2018 and the sale of the products by the end of 2019.
"Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow," Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, said in a statement. "Lake Michigan and the many rivers and lakes across our state are among our most important natural resources. We must do everything necessary to safeguard them."
Legislatures in other states, including New York and California, have considered similar bans.
Some environmentalists have questioned the long rollout in Illinois.
The cosmetics industry, which had initially opposed the idea in other states, worked to push back the proposed timeline in California. Recently, some major companies have said they're already working on natural alternatives such as seeds or nuts.
The Personal Care Products Council, which represents hundreds of companies, helped work on the Illinois legislation.
"We urge policy makers who are considering similar legislation in other states to review the work we have accomplished in Illinois with all sectors of the business community," the council said in a statement issued Sunday.