On Monday, December 28th, President Obama signed the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 into law. This new law bans plastic microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products, requiring companies to stop manufacturing products that contain them. Microbeads are tiny plastic beads that have commonly been added as abrasives to health and beauty products such as exfoliating face washes and toothpastes, and are designed to wash down the drain. Congress’ swift passage of this legislation is reflective of a growing movement to ban microbeads at the state level– in 2015 alone, 47 bills to ban microbeads were introduced in 25 state legislatures and nine were signed into law.
Scuba Dogs Society is gearing up to make a big difference in the fight against marine debris in Puerto Rico. With support from a newly-awarded NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, this non-profit organization in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will work to remove marine debris from an ecologically important area in the San Juan Bay Estuary. They anticipate removing 10 metric tons of debris from 500 acres of habitat over 12 to 18 cleanups! Their efforts will also focus on the outfall of the Rio Grande de Loiza, a site where there is both an accumulation of debris washed in from upriver, as well as mid- to large-scale debris like home appliances and car parts that are purposefully dumped there. Scuba Dogs Society expects 600 volunteers will contribute 2,400 hours of time to these removal efforts.