Liz Michalowska

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



President Barack Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 (MFWA) which banned plastic microbeads in 2015. The MFWA specifically banned plastic microbeads found in cosmetic consumer exfoliants that get rinsed and released into waste-water treatment centers, which then flow into lakes, rivers, and oceans. However, the MFWA does not regulate microbeads found in consumer products that are not rinsed off, such as deodorants, lotions, or other non-cleansing products. The Act also does not ban non-cosmetic microbeads, ranging from those found in cleaning products and medical applications to oil and gas exploration. Critics of the MFWA argue that the ban is too narrow because it does not include all products that contain microbeads, and because it does not do enough to rid marine environments of already existing microbeads. This article will argue that the federal ban is just narrow enough because it closed several statutory loopholes created by individual state bans before the MFWA passed.