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Proposed Regulations for Microbeads in Personal Care Products Used to Exfoliate or Cleanse

3 Elements of the Proposed Regulations

This regulatory proposal aims to prevent the release of microbeads to the aquatic environment from microbead-containing personal care products that are designed for exfoliation and cleansing.

The proposed regulations would be made under section 93 of Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) 1999. Section 93 enables the making of regulations with respect to a substance specified on the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is currently considering options for the development of a stand-alone regulation or a regulatory amendment with the following key elements:

3.1 Microbead Definition

Microbeads were proposed for addition to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 on August 1, 2015, as “Synthetic polymer particles that, at the time of their manufacture, are greater than 0.1 µm and less than or equal to 5 mm in size”. Comments received following the publication of the proposed order on the definition of microbeads have been considered. As a result, alternative language is proposed: “Plastic microbeads that are > 0.5 μm but ≤ 2 mm in size”. The definition of microbeads for the purposes of the regulations will be aligned with the final addition to Schedule 1.

An explanatory note is expected to be published with the final order adding plastic microbeads to Schedule 1 to provide further clarification on the definition.

3.2 Application and Prohibitions

The proposed regulations would apply to any person who manufactures, imports, sells or offers for sale microbead-containing personal care products including cosmetics, non-prescription drugs and natural health products that are used to exfoliate or cleanse.

The proposed regulations would not apply to a microbead-containing personal care product that:

  • is in transit through Canada; or
  • is a prescription drug within the meaning of “prescription drug” under the Food and Drug Regulations.

3.3 Testing

There are no anticipated testing requirements for those affected by the proposed regulation. 

Any analysis/determination performed by Environment and Climate Change Canada for the purpose of enforcement of the regulations must be conducted by a laboratory that is accredited under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard ISO/IEC 17025:2005, entitled General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.

3.4 Reporting and Record Keeping Requirements

While there will be no reporting requirements under this regulation, regulatees benefitting from the proposed in-transit exemption to the regulations as outlined in section 3.2 of this document will be required to keep records as evidence that demonstrate how they meet the exemption.

3.5 Coming into Force

The regulations applying to microbeads as defined in section 3.1 are proposed to come into force on:

  • December 31, 2017, prohibiting the manufacture and import of microbead-containing personal care products, including cosmetics, that are used to exfoliate or cleanse, excluding non-prescription drugs and natural health products.
  • December 31, 2018, prohibiting the sale or offer for sale of microbead-containing personal care products, including cosmetics, that are used to exfoliate or cleanse, excluding non-prescription drugs and natural health products.
  • December 31, 2018, prohibiting the manufacture and import of a microbead-containing non-prescription drug or natural health product that is used to exfoliate or cleanse.
  • December 31, 2019, prohibiting the sale or offer for sale of a microbead-containing non-prescription drug or natural health product that is used to exfoliate or cleanse.
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