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New regulations for plastics in Saudi Arabia

To counter environmental and health risks, the country will introduce new regulatory requirements for plastic from December 2017 onwards. This will also affect packaging materials. The second phase comes into force in September 2019.

Plastics exports to Saudi Arabia must be marked with the logo for biodegradable plastic
Plastics exports to Saudi Arabia must be marked with the logo for biodegradable plastic

Plastic bags, plastic cases or even plastic plates – the new regulation affects a wide range of products. According to the regulations of the responsible Saudi organization (SASO), plastic products must be made of an approved oxo-biodegradable material. “There is no difference here whether the plastic is produced in Saudi Arabia or imported into the country,” explains Larbi El-Attari of the Swiss Business Hub Middle East in Saudi Arabia. Accordingly, non-compliant products may no longer be brought in.

Imports checked at customs

Products and packaging made with polyethylene or polypropylene must comply with the new rules and contain an oxo-biodegradable masterbatch from a supplier approved by the Saudi Arabian government. In order to check imported products accurately, the customs authority in Saudi Arabia work with a laboratory.

Which products are affected?

Contrary to the information available to date, packaging is also affected. This is indicated in more specific regulations issued by the Saudi customs authorities that S-GE has recently received. Here it is stated that, as of December 12, 2017, the plastic products (which are listed on the HS code list) and the packaging materials for the consignments must gradually bear the "biodegradable" logo. This is to ensure that even disposable plastic products made of polyethylene or polypropylene with a film thickness of 250 microns or less, which are commonly used for packaging (such as carrier bags, wrappings and similar applications), are oxo-biodegradable. Without the corresponding logo, the exports cannot be imported into Saudi Arabia. In order to use the logo, the importers and manufacturers need a license from the responsible organization SASO. At the same time, the companies must attach a letter of commitment from the importer, stating that the regulations for biodegradable plastic products will also be followed for future shipments.

Second phase in force from September 2019

Saudi Arabia’s plastics regulations are being implemented step by step. After the initial phase came into force in December 2017, the second phase was due to follow in February 2019. This has now been delayed until September 2019, however. At the same time, affected product categories from phase 1 have been transferred to phase 2. The third phase of the regulation is also due to come into force in September 2019.

An overview of which products are affected by the regulation, and as of when is available here.

We recommend that affected companies consult the SASO website regularly. If you have any questions on plastics legislation in Saudi Arabia, you can contact our ExportHelp team at any time. Get in touch now

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