President Barack Obama signed into law today the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, banning the manufacture and sale of tiny pieces of plastic found in soaps, toothpastes, and body washes in the United States. The powers of the Act, which was approved earlier this month by the House of Representatives, will come into effect on July 1st, 2017, ahead of legislation introduced by states including California, Connecticut, and New Jersey, which originally aimed to halt the production of microbeads inside their borders starting January 2018.
The bill introducing the new law was co-sponsored by both Republican and Democrat representatives, after a series of studies showed that trillions of the minuscule plastic particles were flowing into bodies of water across the United States. Compared to most bills, the Microbead-Free Waters Act sped through Congress, becoming a full-fledged law just nine months after it was introduced in March. Frank Pallone Jr., the bill's Democrat co-sponsor, told the New York Times that the bill's immediate passage was surprising in the modern political climate, but gave a simple explanation for its success. "There was a lot of support, and there wasn't much opposition."