Great Lakes Triumph as Microbead-Free Waters Act Signed into Law

Great news came today for the Great Lakes!

I, along with the folks at Shedd Aquarium, am excited to share that President Barack Obama signed into law a bill that will dramatically improve the health of our lakes and rivers by decreasing plastic pollution. The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, co-sponsored by Reps. Fred Upton and Frank Pallone Jr., bans plastic microbeads (or microplastics) in soaps, body washes and other bath products, starting in July 2017.

The banning of microbeads is incredible news for the Great Lakes' future. Within these five bodies of water, 80 percent of all pollution is from plastics - be it microbeads or plastic water bottles. Because they are able to make it through water filtration systems, they wind up in our lakes and oceans, and are frequently mistaken as food by fish and animal species. This new law will decrease the presence of microplastics in our waters, which is worth celebrating.

Several states have already made strides on their own, banning microbeads locally. We are proud to say that Illinois was the first state to ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads in cosmetics and soaps under the leadership of Illinois Sens. Heather A. Steans, Linda Holmes, Julie A Morrison and more than a dozen members of the House. Soon after, Great Lakes neighbors Indiana and Minnesota also passed legislation banning microbeads in bath products.

We are excited to see improvements in water quality and species populations right in our backyard. We commend our members of Congress and President Obama for passing such a monumental bill and extend our gratitude to all parties involved. We'd also like to extend a special thank you to our folks from Illinois - especially Sens. Mark Kirk and Richard Durbin, and Reps. Mike Quigley, Janice D. Schakowsky, Daniel Lipinski, Robert J. Dold and Cheri Bustos.

You can learn more about the logistics of the bill here.