Canadians have to say goodbye to their favourite facial scrubs forever, but it’s for the better good of the environment.
As of July 1, products containing microplastics (which mainly comprise of toiletries) are officially banned from manufacture, import and sale in Canada, with the only exceptions being natural health products and over-the-counter drugs.
News of the official ban was celebrated by Catherine McKenna, the federal Minister of Environment & Climate Change, on Twitter:
The products most affected by the microplastics ban include toothpastes, facial scrubs, body lotions and shower gels, which employ microbeads as an exfoliant. The beads, which are less than 5 mm in size, are too small to be filtered out by wastewater management systems and end up in lakes, rivers and oceans.
There, they can remain for hundreds of years before they disintegrate, serving as pollutants and harmful substances to marine life.
Beat The Microbead, a non-profit organization, has released a list of alternative scrubs and peels available in Canada that people can buy in place of their former go-to microbead products. Axe, Garner and L’Oreal are among the brands included in the list.
Policy makers have worked for two years to get the microplastics ban passed as law in Canada. It was first proposed in November 2016, then passed in January 2018, and now enforced as of July 1, 2018.
Microbeads are now listed as a toxic substance under the Environmental Protection Act. Please see the government’s product safety section on microbeads here for more information.