New York City isn’t serious about tackling crime unless it involves criminalizing the use of Tide Pods. 

The Big Apple could be the first place in the U.S. to ban laundry and dishwasher pods under the guise of curbing microplastic pollution. 

Referred to as the “Pods are Plastic Bill,” this legislation would ban the sale of detergent pods and sheets containing the ingredient known as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA or PHOV).  If the city council passes the proposal, it would go into effect in January 2026 and result in a $400 penalty for anyone selling or distributing the products in question. Succeeding offenses would result in an additional $400 fine. 

Bill proponents include Blueland—an eco-friendly cleaning products company advocating for detergent pod bans. In the past, the company asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove PVA from its Safer Choice and Safer Chemicals Ingredients list. Nevertheless, the agency denied the petition last April. 

“The hope is to move the market to alternatives that don’t involve this plastic that is designed to go down our drains,” Blueland co-founder and CEO Sarah Paiji Yoo said. “Our hope is that this will be an impetus for companies broadly to innovate beyond single-use plastic and the use of single-use plastic for pods and sheets and other single-dose mechanisms.”

But the American Cleaning Institute (ACI)—comprising of P&G, Clorox, Unilever, and Church & Dwight—rebuked Blueland and accused them of engaging in misinformation about PVA’s environmental footprint, stating, “The innovation of water-soluble films and laundry detergent packets is a sustainability success story. They help consumers safely use, dose and store the products, making chores easier to do for everyone, including those with disabilities. They can be designed for cold water wash cycles, reducing the footprint associated with heating water.”

The ACI also shot back at Blueland’s argument that PVA/PHOV pods and dissolving sheets exacerbate microplastic pollution, stating it dissolves entirely when in contact with water and is biodegradable in nature.

Per Michigan State University, PVA is a “water-soluble synthetic polymer” with “various applications, from glue to medications to food packaging to pods.” PVA (or PHOV)—save for consumption and ingestion—is generally safe for human use like cleaning purposes. Additional research suggests this ingredient is “nontoxic, biocompatible, biodegradable, and widely available.”

Plastic pollution, including that of microplastics, is a serious problem across the globe. But is banning detergent pods—with 20 billion used annually by Americans—the smart way to go? Even proponents of combatting microplastics concede it’s hard to prevent tiny plastic particles from entering the environment—whether on land or sea. 

I personally prefer to use natural detergents for clothes washing but have used pods for dishwashing. However, sensible people should be against government mandates—federal, state, or local—that call on consumers to forcibly switch to potentially less-effective alternatives and limit their choices.