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Swedish rules on plastic microbeads in cosmetic products

Since 1 July 2018 a new ban has come into force in Sweden on plastic microbeads in cosmetic products. The purpose of this regulation is to restrict the release of plastic microbeads into our lakes and seas.

Ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetic products

In order to reduce the spread of tiny plastic microbeads in the environment, there is a Swedish ban on the sale of cosmetic products containing plastic microbeads which have a cleansing, peeling or polishing effect. This ban includes products such as those intended to be rinsed off or spit out after use on skin, hair, mucous membranes or teeth. Such products may be soap with a peeling effect or toothpaste with a polishing effect.

The ban applies to plastic microbeads in solid phase that are less than 5 millimetres in any dimension and that are insoluble in water. There is no lower limit for the size of the microbeads, which means that plastic microbeads in nano phase are also covered.

Plastic microbeads that only consist of naturally occurring polymers such as cellulose are not covered by the ban.

The ban has been in force since 1 July 2018; however, products that were for sale on the Swedish market before this date may continue to be sold up to 1 January 2019. This transition period gives the companies time to sell off their remaining stocks.

Prohibition in Certain Cases in Connection with the Handling, Import and Export of Chemical Products Ordinance (1998:944), 4–4b §§ (In Swedish only)

Dispensation from the ban

The Swedish Chemicals Agency may grant a dispensation from the ban in individual cases. We can grant a dispensation for cosmetic products that have been manufactured using naturally occurring polymers as a raw material that quickly degrade into monomers in an aquatic environment and pose no risk of harm to aquatic organisms. You must submit with your application for a dispensation written documentation and proof that the requirements stipulated in 4b§ of the Ordinance have been met.

You will find further information on the background to the ban in the Swedish Chemicals Agency report 2/16:

“Proposal for a national ban on microbeads in cosmetic products”. (Report in Swedish, summary in English)

Most of the rules that apply to cosmetic products, such as those regarding labelling, are set out in the Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 on cosmetic products.

Further information is available from the Swedish Medical Products Agency, which is the agency responsible for the Regulation on cosmetic products.