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Portugal’s Ban on Plastic Microbeads

A Decree-Law in Portugal has passed that prohibits the distribution, consumption or use of some microbead containing products by July 1, 2022.

Person washing their face over a sink

September 1, 2021

by Raissa Havens, regulatory specialist, UL’s Supply Chain team

The United Kingdom, China, New Zealand, Canada and France are some of the countries around the world that have been announcing bans on the use of microbeads, essentially in rinse-off cosmetics. At the end of last year, Argentina was the first country in South America to implement the ban as well - now it is Portugal’s turn.

On July 30, 2021, Decree-Law 69/2021 was published on the Official Gazette prohibiting the distribution, consumption or use of certain cosmetic and detergent products in the Portuguese market. This regulation applies to products that contain intentionally added plastic microbeads in a concentration equal to or greater than 0.01% by weight.

The Decree-Law defines plastic microbeads as solid polymers with dimensions equal to or less than 5 millimeters , to which additives or other substances may have been added, exempting only natural polymers that have not been chemically modified, used as an abrasive, namely to exfoliate, polish or clean.

Under European Union law, the terms cosmetics and detergents include any personal care product and cleaning product. However, those terms were used in this Decree-Law for uniformity reasons.

The enforcement authority of this law is the Economic and Food Safety Authority (ASAE) and Tax and Customs Authority (AT).

This regulation does not apply to:

  • Biodegradable polymers
  • Polymers with solubility above 2 grams/liter
  • Products that have been placed on the market before the entry into force of this decree-law

Under Article 5, violations of this Decree-Law will be considered as serious and will be sanctioned according to the provisions of Decree-Law 9/2021.

Companies will have until July 1, 2022, to comply with the requirements of this Decree-Law, which is when it enters into force.

Recommended action items

If you manufacture, distribute or sell cosmetics and detergents covered by the definitions described above, verify the chemical composition of your products to ensure they are compliant with the Decree-Law.

References

Decree-Law 69/2021 of July 30

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