Capitol Alert

Plastic microbead ban fails in California Senate

Researcher Chelsea Rochman holds a dollop of commercially available facial scrub containing microbeads in her lab at UC Davis in Davis on April 15, 2015. Rochman is studying the affects of microbead plastic particles that have been found in fish in rivers and offshore CA.
Researcher Chelsea Rochman holds a dollop of commercially available facial scrub containing microbeads in her lab at UC Davis in Davis on April 15, 2015. Rochman is studying the affects of microbead plastic particles that have been found in fish in rivers and offshore CA. rbenton@sacbee.com

A bill to bar California retailers from selling cosmetic products that contain exfoliating plastic microbeads failed in the state Senate Thursday after a handful of Democrats held off their votes.

Assembly Bill 888, which would have implemented the ban in 2020, passed the lower house in May. But it was blocked by a vote of 19-16 in the Senate, where a similar bill died last year. The measure, by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, was granted reconsideration.

Microbeads, which are small enough to pass through filtration systems, have gained attention as a significant source of pollution as they have appeared in the bodies of fish and other wildlife. Supports of AB 888 point to natural alternatives already available for exfoliating creams and scrubs, such as walnut shells.

But opponents warned that the language of the bill would limit the industry from developing a replacement that may also contain plastic.

“I agree that we should eliminate the current microbeads,” said Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who did not vote on the measure. “But we should not try to preclude better alternatives.”

Other Democrats who abstained on AB 888 were Cathleen Galgiani of Manteca, Steve Glazer of Orinda and Bob Hertzberg of Los Angeles. Democratic Sens. Ed Hernandez of West Covina, Connie Leyva of Chino and Richard Roth of Riverside all voted no.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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