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Erie County microbead ban prompts Wegmans-wide ban

Prompted by Erie County’s ban on microbeads, Wegmans will stop carrying products containing microbeads at all 88 of its stores.

An Erie County ban on polyethylene microbead plastics will take effect in February.

Mary Ellen Burris, the company’s senior vice president of consumer affairs, made the announcement on its website. Citing Erie County’s ban, she said the decision was made “to help protect waterways” and that the products would be gone by mid-February 2016.

“We feel it is the right thing to do for the communities we serve, and it falls under our sustainability initiative to make responsible decisions for people, business, and environment,” she wrote.

Among those being removed are 32 facial skin care products from Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Garnier, Neutrogena and Olay, as well as eight varieties of Crest toothpaste.

A full list of discontinued items is available on

Erie County’s ban makes it illegal to sell products containing the plastic beads, which do not break down in water. They spread pollutants and harm aquatic life when they make their way from household drains, through wastewater treatment plants and into local waterways.

The Rochester-based grocer has stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachussetts and Virginia.

Congress passed a law last week that forces manufacturers to stop making products with microbeads by July 2017.