Avoid loopholes by clearly defining all terms in policy. We suggest using GESAMP’s recommended definitions.

Loophole Prevention Guidelines for Microbead Legislation
by Fauna & Flora International

  • Any definition of ‘microbeads’ must include all solid plastic ingredients smaller than 5mm used for any purpose (not just for exfoliation)
  • There should be no lower size limit included in the definition
  • The legislation should cover all products that are washed down the drain or are directly discharged into waterways or the marine environment; this includes a wide range of cosmetic and personal care products as well as cleaning products, make-up and industrial products*
  • Legislation should not allow so-called ‘biodegradable’ plastics to be used as alternatives as these materials do not degrade in the marine environment and therefore are not a solution to the problem
  • There should be a clear and prompt timeline for phasing out these ingredients, and a date after which products containing microplastics must not be sold

*Types of plastics added to personal care products


Microbead-free Waters Act

The Illinois bill text defines plastic as those molded at high heat, linking monomers, and retaining their defined shapes after disposal, allows for plastics that degrade slightly in an unspecified time period.

“Biodegradable” is not defined in terms of % degradation under a specified time frame in the environment, allowing microbeads to be made from plastics like PLA—a material that is not marine biodegradable.

A New Standard Can Facilitate Improved Policy