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Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Jun 20;51(12):6611-6617. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b05812. Epub 2017 Jun 1.

Addressing the Issue of Microplastics in the Wake of the Microbead-Free Waters Act-A New Standard Can Facilitate Improved Policy.

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William and Mary Research Institute, College of William and Mary , Williamsburg, Virginia 23185, United States.
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Codiga Resource Recovery Center, Stanford University , Stanford, Califonia 94305, United States.
Mango Materials, Oakland, California United States.
Department of Aquatic Health Sciences, Virginia Institute of Marine Science , Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062, United States.
Hampton Roads Sanitation District, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23455, United States.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto , Toronto, Ontario M5S3G5, Canada.


The United States Microbead-Free Waters Act was signed into law in December 2015. It is a bipartisan agreement that will eliminate one preventable source of microplastic pollution in the United States. Still, the bill is criticized for being too limited in scope, and also for discouraging the development of biodegradable alternatives that ultimately are needed to solve the bigger issue of plastics in the environment. Due to a lack of an acknowledged, appropriate standard for environmentally safe microplastics, the bill banned all plastic microbeads in selected cosmetic products. Here, we review the history of the legislation and how it relates to the issue of microplastic pollution in general, and we suggest a framework for a standard (which we call "Ecocyclable") that includes relative requirements related to toxicity, bioaccumulation, and degradation/assimilation into the natural carbon cycle. We suggest that such a standard will facilitate future regulation and legislation to reduce pollution while also encouraging innovation of sustainable technologies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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