- Plastic Tides Highlight Statewide Microbead Problem

For Immediate Release: November 19, 2015

Plastic Tides Highlight Statewide Microbead Problem

Group concludes 240 mile paddle trip, sample collection, started last year

Albany – Using paddle boarding as a way to raise awareness about plastic pollution in New York waterways, two cofounders of the environmental and educational organization Plastic Tides arrived at Jennings Landing in Albany Thursday morning ending the second leg of an odyssey that began in Ithaca one year ago. During the first leg of their trip, Plastic Tides cofounders Gordon Middleton and Christian Shaw conducted the first microbead survey in the Finger Lakes region. In their work they collected samples from waterbodies such as Cayuga Lake and the Erie Canal – 70 percent of samples, some collected as far as 100 yards from shore, contained microbeads.

19 tons of tiny plastic microbeads are going down drains in New York annually, passing through wastewater treatment plants and entering New York’s waterways, according to a report by state Attorney General Schneiderman. Many consumers are completely unaware that some of the products they use to wash their face or brush their teeth contain plastic, which is due to inaction from the state Senate. This inaction has forced local lawmakers to act – Albany and Tompkins counties are the most recent communities to #BanTheBead, joining 10 other municipalities representing a majority of New Yorkers that have introduced or passed bans.

Gordon Middleton, cofounder of Plastic Tides said, “On our first leg of the Erie Canal expedition, we put our own health on the line to call on the state to pass the Microbead-Free Waters Act. When the Senate failed to vote on it during last session, it only made us more determined. The Senate needs to take notice of this county-by-county legislative push and make this ban become a reality for all New York waterways.”

Christian Shaw, cofounder of Plastic Tides said, “I'm excited we've finally made it to Albany to deliver our message, especially on the heels of a microbead ban passing in our home county of Tompkins on Tuesday. Hopefully the state government will take notice of our efforts and the growing grassroots movement to banish microbeads from New York State.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “Yesterday, Tompkins County joined the growing movement of county governments in affirming its commitment to protecting our state’s waters –and the fish, wildlife, and people who depend upon them – from the threat of plastic microbead pollution. I applaud the six New York counties that have prohibited the sale of personal care products containing microbeads and look forward to continuing to work with a broad coalition of partners to remove these products from store shelves statewide.”

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee said, “The Assembly has passed legislation to rid our oceans, lakes and waterways of microbeads. Once consumers learn that plastic microbeads from cleansing and personal care products are polluting our waters and contaminating fish and birds, they want it to stop. I’d like to thank Attorney General Schneiderman for his leadership, and also organizations like Plastic Tides that raise awareness about this issue. Hopefully the Senate will follow the Assembly’s lead and protect our state’s waters from microbead pollution.”

Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, sponsor of the Microbead-Free Waters Act said, “The leadership of the cities and counties across New York State to pass legislation to ban microbeads has helped raise awareness to plastic pollution in our waterways. Thank you Plastic Tides for making it a priority. It is my belief that the Microbead-Free Waters Act will be enacted this legislative session.”

Saima Anjam, environmental health director for Environmental Advocates of New York said, “Local governments statewide are taking action. Republican and Democrat officials, and leaders from rural, urban and suburban communities alike, recognize that this tiny waste is causing major harm. The Microbead-Free Waters Act has the support to become law as soon as the state Senate steps up to act. We urge Majority Leader Flanagan and Senate Environmental Conservation Chairman Tom O’Mara to bring this widely supported legislation to an immediate vote upon the start of the 2016 legislative session.”

Dr. Sherri Mason, professor of chemistry at the State University of New York at Fredonia said, “It took a year, but I am glad that Plastic Tides was finally able to complete their full journey from the Finger Lakes to Albany. Last year, though their journey was cut short, the samples they were able to obtain established that microplastics are a widespread pollutant in New York waters. I happily support the work of Plastic Tides, am appreciative of all they are doing to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of the plastic pollution issue, and look forward to action on this issue in the state Senate.”