Toiletries containing microbeads no longer for sale

By Marina Wang

On Canada Day Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced that the “final step” in banning microbeads was in effect. McKenna tweeted that microbeads “would no longer be for sale in toiletries as of today”.

Microbeads, also known as microplastics, are small pieces of plastic less than 5 millimetres in size and are commonly found as an abrasive agent in toothpastes or as an exfoliant in face and body washes. They’re too small to be filtered out in water treatment systems and end up as a pollutant in watersheds.

“Due to long residence times in the environment and poor waste management practices, the environmental burden from plastic litter continues to increase globally posing environmental, economic and aesthetic issues with complex challenges and impacts,” reads an environmental summary from Environment Canada. Microbeads have also been added to the List of Toxic Substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

The process of banning microbeads began nearly two years ago in November of 2016, and in January 2018, the Microbeads in Toiletries Regulations came into force. This stopped the manufacturing and import of toiletries containing microbeads, and as of July 1, the sale of most microbead products were also banned.

The exception to the ban includes non-prescription drugs and natural health products that contain microbeads, which are set to be banned on July 1 of next year.