Stepping up to stop marine debris

Posted on Mar 23, 2016

Kudos to Maine Legislators who passed a bill to seek ways to reduce marine debris in our coastal waters.

LD 427  “Resolve, Directing Certain State Agencies To Consider the Effects of Marine Debris”  simply requires that Maine’s natural resource agencies consider how they can reduce trash in our coastal waters, from large items to microplastics.

 

What can you do to help?

  • Thank all the Senators who passed the bill unanimously without a roll call and the Representatives in the House who voted 100 to 40 to pass this bill. It’s important to let Legislators know that you care, should the Governor veto the bill. (Find your Senator, Find Your Representative, and See How Your Representative Voted)
  • Sign up to volunteer with Friends of Casco Bay. Fill out a volunteer application here and check Beach Clean Ups.
  • Keep garbage from washing into the Bay. Whenever you stroll along the shore or sail around the Bay, bring a bag to pick up debris—even if it’s not your own.

 

This is just one small step in a large effort to decrease marine debris. Maine helped lead the way last legislative session when the legislature passed a state ban on non-biodegradable microbeads in personal care products. Seven other states passing their own legislation. These individual state bans created the right conditions for President Obama to sign a federal law limiting the use of microbeads in December 2015. The federal ban (summarized below) does not replace the need for other state laws to address marine debris. States like Maine must continue to lead the way to reduce our use of plastics that pollute and degrade the marine environment, affect the health of marine life and ultimately are consumed by humans with unknown consequences.

 

Here is a summary of the federal  bill:

  • Prohibits the manufacture or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of a rinse off cosmetic that contains intentionally –added plastic microbeads.
  • Preempts all state laws that restrict the manufacture or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of a rinse off cosmetic that contains intentionally –added plastic microbeads.
  • A microplastic is any solid plastic particle less than 5 millimeters that is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse any part of the human body.
  • A rinse off cosmetic is any article intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, introduced into or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering appearance. If it contains a drug- for example an acne medicine or additive to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, it is a cosmetic and a drug.
  • July 1, 2017: ban on manufacture of rinse off cosmetics that are not drugs.
  • July 1, 2018: ban on the manufacture or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of a rinse off cosmetic.
  • July 1, 2018: ban on manufacture of rinse off cosmetics that are drugs.
  • July 1, 2019: ban on the manufacture or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of a rinse off cosmetic that are drugs.

This federal law does not ban lotions or many other products with plastics in them. It does not address microfibers from fleece and other synthetic clothing, and it does not address larger plastic debris from land sources (examples include Styrofoam containers from fast food and coffee) and from marine uses such as fragments from rope.