Woman Washing Hands
Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Sunday that he says makes Illinois the first state to ban the sale and manufacture of soaps and cosmetics containing microbeads.
Synthetic plastic microbeads are found in soaps and cosmetics and billed as a way to exfoliate skin and teeth. But environmental experts have raised concerns of plastic pollution in waterways, saying the scrubbing beads 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, are considering similar bans.
However, some environmentalists have questioned the long rollout in Illinois.
The cosmetics industry has typically opposed such bans, but some companies have said they'll work on alternatives. The Personal Care Products Council, which has said it has a "longstanding commitment to environmental stewardship" when asked about the issue, did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Sunday.