Sunday, January 3, 2016

Microbead Ban

Image thanks to Newsweek

As I was rubbing in some new acne medication before bed, I notice that the cream carried a strange texture.


Apparently they're called microbeads, a cheap cosmetic technique used in creams to add additional exfoliating (brushing/cleaning) capabilities to the cream. Perfect for cleansing creams!

Or so I would've imagined, until President Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which bans the use of said microbeads in "wash-off" products (including toothpaste) beginning in 2017. The ban stems from the difficulty of cleaning up the beads; by definition, they're beads of 5 millimeters diameter or less. Add the fact that they're plastic, and it becomes an ecological nightmare trying to clean up all those microbeads.

Another win for preserving nature, but what does it say about the government that did it?

Now for the questions:

Is such a measure constitutional? What does that say about ecological goals and how they rate on the level of scrutiny that should trigger?

This is kind of a shot in the dark, but how does it begin to apply to the economy and what kinds of restrictions the government can place on that economy?



Shu Yang said...

At the recent Paris Climate Change Summit, world leaders came together to decide on the Paris Agreement which was an agreement to reduce climate change. What this measure says about our government is they are keeping to their word and making changes to improve our global climate.There is no question on the constitutionality of the FDA in banning different drugs from appearing in the USA market because they are protecting American consumers. Similarly, I believe the government's ban on microbeads should not be viewed as unconstitutional because it is based on safety reasons- it's just we're talking about the environment's and not people's safety.

In addition, there are common alternatives to microbeads already out on the market that some consumers find to be even more effective. Take face scrubs for example. There are generally two types of face scrubs on the market: those which use microbeads to exfoliate dead skin versus those which use chemicals to exfoliate dead skin. It is widely recognized that chemical face scrubs are better for your skin because microbeads, although small, have rough edges and may damage undead skin. Because there are alternatives to microbeads which are already commonly and easily used, I do not see this measure as unconstitutional.

Elliot Quan said...

I still can't even wrap my head around how these beads are supposed to be used, but why not just use a face towel? People are just careless with regards to the disposal of these beads, which is why we have the problem--and if people are careless, then laws get passed. That doesn't seem unconstitutional to me.

I suppose that the issue can lie in a state vs federal argument - should the states have the ability to regulate microbeads in their own districts rather than the federal gov't? Prohibition banned alcohol nationwide, but that required a constitutional amendment. I guess if there were any pro-microbead users, they'd have to argue something similar, but even then, the argument against them is pretty rational; I don't see much of a case for their side.