MONTPELIER — The Vermont House passed a bill Tuesday to ban microbeads in beauty products that have been found to cause harm to fish and other wildlife.
The House gave preliminary approval to H.4 with a unanimous voice vote. It was passed unanimously by the House Fish and Wildlife Committee on Friday.
The legislation, first brought to the attention of the House Fish and Wildlife Committee by Rep. Patti Komline, R-Dorset, has broad support across the political spectrum.
The small, plastic beads typically end up in the state’s waterways because they are too small to be filtered out at water treatment plants. The beads, which are found in thousands of personal care products, absorb toxic chemicals and can cause harm to fish and other animals that consume them.
“Vermonters do not need these tiny, plastic beads in their soap. They especially don’t need them if they are harming our aquatic life and threatening our waterways,” Taylor Johnson, an environmental advocate with VPIRG, said in a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s vote.
The bill would ban the manufacturing of the microbeads in Vermont on Jan. 1, 2017, and ban the sale of them on Jan. 1, 2018.
Advocates of the bill say there are several natural and biodegradable alternatives to plastic microbes on the market. Some major companies have already begun switching to those natural alternatives.
House Fish and Wildlife Committee Chairman Rep. David Deen, D-Putney, said banning microbeads is the first of many water quality bills the committee will advance this year.
“This is the first step in what’s going to be the year of water,” he said.