Canada Joins Increasing Efforts to Ban Microbeads

On March 24, 2015, the Canadian House of Commons voted to take measures to add microbeads to the List of Toxic Substances. In response, the Minister of the Environment gave notice that certain persons would be required to provide information needed to assess the need for control measures, as well as the type of control measures that may be needed (Canada Gazette Part I Vol 149, No 31). Within the notice, microbeads are defined as "synthetic polymer articles that, at the time of their manufacture, are greater than 0.1 µm and less than or equal to 5 mm in size." Persons who are required to provide information include those who, during 2014, imported, exported, or used a total quantity greater than 10 kg "in a mixture or product intended to be applied to the human body for the purpose of exfoliating or cleansing, and the conditions of use are such that the substance may be released to water." The deadline for providing the information is October 15, 2015, and responders can submit a written request for their information to be treated as confidential. The Minister of the Environment, within the notice, indicated that Canada will try to align its microbead initiatives with those of the United States, where possible. As we have previously noted, microbead ban initiatives within the United States have thus far been pursued at the state level, though some senators have pushed for a nationwide ban (Illinois blog, New York blog, State Update blog). In addition, in more recent efforts since the posting of our previous blogs, California and Colorado have passed bans on the use of microbeads in personal care products.