Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015

What it does?

Bans all manufacturing and selling of products containing microbeads (US FDA 2017). Microbeads are the small plastic particles used in face washes, personal care, and cleaning products. They’re less than 5mm in size, meaning they can easily slip through wastewater treatment systems and end up in our oceans, lakes, ponds, and other water bodies (Australian Government).

What makes up microbeads?

Polyethylene (PE) Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) Nylon (PA)

Polypropylene (PP) Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)

Marine Debris Act of 2006

What it does?

Established the Marine Debris Program (MDP) within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA 2020).

Requires NOAA to “identify, determine sources of, assess, prevent, reduce, and remove marine debris and address the adverse impacts of marine debris on the economy of the United States, marine environment, and navigation safety” (NOAA 2020). This is done through “prevention, removal, research, regional coordination, and emergency response”.  NOAA receives funding and provides technical assistance to aid in assessment and removal of marine debris.  

What is “marine debris” defined as?

Marine debris is any persistent/permanent waste that ends up in the marine environment (NOAA 2018). Plastic waste includes microplastics as well as larger sized plastics that may end up as marine debris (Lipiec et al 2019).

Save Our Seas Act of 2018

What it does?

Extends NOAA’s marine debris program for five years (Environmental Protection 2018).

Promotes international action to remove marine debris. This is done by working with undeveloped countries on implementing better recycling programs, waste management systems, etc to ultimately reduce marine debris. 

Supports research pertaining to marine debris, their impact, and benefits to their reduction (Wilson 2018).

Save Our Seas Act 2.0

Currently in congress is a Save Our Seas Act 2.0 which extends the original Save Our Seas Act to support scientific research aimed at microplastic in food and water. It would also improve recycling within the U.S. and manage plastic waste imported (Bertrand 2019).



Australian Government. (2020). Plastic microbeads. Retrieved from 


Bertrand, S. (2019, October 11). SOS, Marine Debris: Bipartisan Bill Advances to Address 

Marine Pollution. Retrieved from https://www.eesi.org/articles/view/sos-marine-debris-bipartisan-bill-advances-to-address-marine-pollution 

Environmental Protection. (2018, October 12). Save Our Seas Act of 2018 Signed into Law. 

Environmental Protection. Retrieved from https://eponline.com/articles/2018/10/12/save-our-seas-act-of-2018-signed-into-law.aspx

Lipiec, E., Luther, L. 2019, February 11. Marine Debris: NOAA’s Role. Retrieved from 


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 2020, March 25. The Marine Debris 


Retrieved from https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/about-our-program/marine-debris-act

NOAA. 2018, June 25. What is marine debris? Retrieved from 


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2017, November 3). The Microbead-Free Waters Act. 

Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-laws-regulations/microbead-free-waters-act-faqs 

Wilson, A. (2018, October 11). The ‘Save Our Seas Act’ will do these three things. Retrieved 

from https://www.plasticpackagingfacts.org/blog/the-save-our-seas-act-will-do-these-three-things/