Vol. XLIV No. 1

Microbeads and the Toxics Use Reduction Act: Preventing Pollution at Its Source

Abstract: Microbead pollution presents a significant threat to human health and the environment. As a result, Congress enacted a national ban on microbeads in 2015. This ban is a drastic, reactionary measure that fails to address the continued threat posed by already existing pollution. In addition, the ban represents a continued preference for the command-and-control regulatory framework that failed to prevent microbead pollution in the first place. In contrast, pollution prevention, an alternative regulatory technique adopted by Congress as national policy in 1990, more efficiently prevents pollution by focusing on reducing pollution at its source. In 1989, Massachusetts became the first state to successfully implement a comprehensive pollution prevention statute and, as a result, achieved significant pollution reduction throughout the state. If it had applied to microbeads, the pollution prevention model, could have eliminated the need for a national ban and addressed the continued threat posed by already existing pollution.

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