Working together, we did it!

On August 1st, the Federal Government proposed adding plastic microbeads to the List of Toxic Substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) thanks to letters you sent to the former Minister of the Environment, Leona Aglukkaq.

Beginning in June, a letter writing campaign mounted by Ottawa Riverkeeper, LUSH Cosmetics and others directed 1600 letters to the Minister of the Environment in just one month! Momentum to ban the bead has been mounting over the past year thanks to numerous organizations, individuals and journalists who have been active on this issue.

On September 30, Waterkeeper Alliance members in Canada submitted comments on the government’s Order to list plastic microbeads as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

Photo: Integrative Health Institute

Photo: Integrative Health Institute

The story isn’t over yet, however. Draft regulations still have to be filed and go through due process of comments and revisions before they are brought into effect. That may take some time. You can count on Canadian Waterkeepers to stay involved to make sure we end up with strong regulations that will help put an end to this serious pollution problem.

What Our Provinces Are Doing

Québec and Ontario have not been quiet on this file. The Québec government is currently working on tabling legislation in response to a petition started by a Québec teen that was presented to the Legislative Assembly by MNA Maryse Gaudreault in October. The city of Gatineau will be debating asking the provincial government to ban microbeads in mid-November.

MPP Marie-France Lalonde introduced a private member’s bill to ban the use of microbeads in Ontario which reached committee reading before the summer recess.

What Industries Are Doing

The power of citizen action can reach beyond government. Rolling back the use of microbeads can be sped up by appealing directly to industry.

Ottawa Riverkeeper recently congratulated Loblaws, the owners of Shoppers Drug Mart, for their impressive commitment to eliminate triclosan, phthalates, and plastic microbeads from Life Brand and President’s Choice Products by the end of 2018. They have already begun phasing out inventory with those ingredients.

You can read here about more businesses and brands who have committed to ban microbeads.

campaign_to_ban_microbeads_1415753611 5 gyres

5 Gyres Microbeads Infographic

What You Can Do

As citizens we can move even faster than that. Without citizen action, the process to get microbeads out of our drinking/fresh water would not have got this far. You can take the fight against microbeads into your own hands by buying products that are kinder to the river: avoid products that contain polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, or polymethyl methacrylate.

You can also help the river by avoiding triclosan. Look out for products (eg. soaps, sanitizers) that are advertised as having “antibacterial” properties, you will likely see triclosan on the ingredient list.

The push to remove microbeads and triclosan from our waterways is moving forward but is far from complete. You can keep this going by supporting Ottawa Riverkeeper in our efforts to get government and industry on board to remove these toxic substances from products that end up in our lakes and rivers.


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