Photo by MN Pollution Control Agency
6 September 2018, Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, has lauded the support from various sectors to a legislative measure that will prohibit the use of plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care products.
At yesterday’s hearing of the Committee on Ecology of the House of Representatives, government, industry and civil society representatives voiced their support to House Bill 8120, particularly with respect to banning plastic microbeads, a known ocean pollutant, in rinse-off personal care products such as facial cleansers, body washes, toothpastes and others.
Ako Bicol Party-list Representatives Rodel M. Batocabe, Alfredo A. Garbin, Jr. and Christopher S. Co. authored HB 8120, or the proposed “Microplastic Ban Act of 2018,” which is now co-authored by Representatives Lawrence H. Fortun, Estrellita B. Suansing, Ma. Lucille Naia, Maximo Rodriguez, and Linabelle Ruth R. Villarica.
“The broad support to the proposal to ban plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care products will facilitate the bill’s expedited approval by lawmakers,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, as he noted the positive interventions made at the hearing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Consumer Protection and Advocacy Group-DTI, Chamber of Cosmetic Industry of the Philippines (CCIP), Cosmetic Toiletry Fragrance Association of the Philippines, Philippine Society for Cosmetic Science, and UL Skin Sciences Inc.
“The passage of the bill as amended will help in addressing the escalating threat of microplastic pollution to the health of the oceans and aquatic life,” Dizon said.
“We hope that a parallel bill will be introduced soon at the Senate to speed up the ban on plastic microbeads,” he added.
The extremely tiny plastic microbeads in personal care products go down the drain and into waterways, polluting the oceans with microplastics that can attract and absorb hazardous chemicals, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which are consumed by fish and other marine organisms who mistake them for food, Dizon explained.
At the hearing , Emil Virtudes, President of CCIP, expressed industry support for the measure as he cited the statement by the ASEAN Cosmetic Association recommending to its members “the discontinuation of the use of plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care products” for the protection of the marine environment.
Engr. Ana Rivera, Director of the FDA Center for Cosmetics Regulation and Research, proposed, among other pertinent points, an amendment to the bill’s definition of plastic microbeads so as not to limit the scope or coverage of the bill. As an example, she cited the definition by the Global Plastic Task Force for plastic microbeads as “any intentionally added, 5 mm or less, water insoluble, solid plastic particle use to exfoliate or cleanse in rinse-off personal care products.”
It will be recalled that in January 2017, the EcoWaste Coalition and over 50 other environmental conservation and protection groups wrote to the Department of Health and the FDA to urge the government to ban plastic microbeads in personal care and cosmetic products.
This was followed by a petition in April 2017 led by the EcoWaste Coalition and counterpart NGOs in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to prohibit, as a regional bloc, the use of plastic microbeads in personal care and cosmetic products “to cut ocean pollution and protect marine life.”
To boost the local campaign, the EcoWaste Coalition collaborated with the CCIP to bring Dr. Ann Blake, a public health and environmental consultant, to the 3rd Philippines International Beauty Show in May 2017 for a presentation on “Microplastics in Cosmetics: A Rapidly Emerging Environmental Concern.”
The second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) had stated that “the presence of plastic litter and microplastics in the marine environment is a rapidly increasing serious issue of global concern that needs an urgent global response.”
Through Resolution 2/11, UNEA urged governments and product manufacturers to phase out microplastic particles in PCCPs and “their replacement with organic or mineral non-hazardous compounds.”