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WNY residents react to upcoming ban on products containing microbeads


Local consumers who use personal care products containing microbeads are reacting to news that Erie County will soon ban the sale of goods that contain these tiny plastic orbs.

Acting on a unanimous vote by the Erie County Legislature, County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Wednesday signed a new law to ban the plastic beads.


The beads are used as an exfoliant in over 100 personal care products. Ban advocates say the plastic beads pass through wastewater treatment plants, damaging waterways and harming wildlife in the Great Lakes. The bill will become law six months after it is filed with the state.

WBFO took to the streets to find out what Western New Yorkers are saying about the decision. Many support the ban, including Buffalo resident Alicia Jackson.

“I really don’t use products with microbeads in it,” Jackson said. “But I think it’s a good cause because at the end of the day, we’ve got to protect our environment for future generations.”

She also says the new law could set an example for the rest of the country.

“If our city gets it and another city gets it and then it has a big ripple effect upon everybody, it’ll really make a difference. It’ll be nice for everybody to get on board and start doing a change for something good for once.”

Microbeads currently make up 90 percent of new plastic pollution in Lake Erie.  Once it becomes law, stores caught selling the products could be slapped with fines.

Some residents, like Sharon Baker, say they’ll miss the product.

“I’ll miss it, because it does help,” Baker said. “It clears my pores up and helps get rid of the acne.”

Still, others, like James Szabo, says the action to cut plastic pollution was warranted.

“I mean they’ve been dumping crap like that in the lake for years and it’s not good,” Szabo said. “As far as people wanting to develop business there, no one wants to go swimming in the lake, no one wants to go jet skiing like when I was a kid.”  

Elijah Madigan, who supports the ban, say microbeads are a bad idea for numerous reasons. 

“Isn’t plastic harmful to you though, why would you want to rub that all over you or put it in your mouth,” Madigan said. “I think it should be banned, that’s not right to have plastic on your face, in your skin in your mouth, in the lakes.  That’s bad for everything.”