Stellina Popplewell

From July 1, 2020 a new scheme will be adopted to improve the regulation of industrial and cosmetic chemicals in Australia. We are moving from NICNAS (National Industrial Chemicals and Notification Assessment Scheme) to AICIS (Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme).

The new scheme has been designed to be a more risk proportionate regulatory scheme, while maintaining Australia’s robust health, safety and environmental standards. Hopefully reducing effort in low risk areas but perhaps increasing in others.

Here is a brief overview of the changes:

  1. The basic set up of the regulator and the regulatory structure remains the same. The Inventory will work the same way as it does now.
  2. Companies / introducers details and listings etc all transfer to the new Act and AICIS scheme.
  3. Define industrial chemicals by exclusion (if a chemical is only for another use (e.g. Agricultural chemical), it’s not an industrial chemical)
  4. There is an increase in accessible information for the public (assessments etc). However, still able to apply for protection of your confidential business information (CBI). There are some differences, including when you can apply for CBI and what protection you specifically will be applying for.
  5. The main change appears to be how we apply for a new listing or for chemicals of low risk, what options there are for minimal regulatory requirements:
    1. Listed introductions – for chemicals already on the Inventory. If already on the inventory and you can meet any terms set out for its introduction you can start to introduce it.
    2. Exempted introductions –chemical is very low risk. Need to keep records about the chemical and its use and submit a once-off declaration to AICIS if you introduce (polymers of low concern, low-concern biopolymers etc)
    3. Reported introductions –chemical is low risk and must submit a report to AICIS with information about the chemical and its use before import. Need to keep records about the chemical and its use
    4. Assessed introductions –chemical is medium to high risk. Need to apply give AICIS  information about the chemical and its use. Assessment done and certificate given for the introduction. Assessment Statement published.  Need to keep records about the chemical and its use after the certificate is issued. After 5 years your chemical will be listed on the Inventory.
    5. Commercial evaluation authorisations –time limited authorisations (like a permit) so an introducer can determine a chemical’s commercial potential. Details are published.
    6. Exceptional circumstances authorisations – only if the introduction is necessary in the public interest to manage significant human health or environment risks (i.e. an emergency)

Additional details can be found by clicking here.

The following changes are now in effect to reduce regulatory burden:

  • no more annual reporting for permit holders and self-assessed assessment certificate holders
  • shorter timeframes for Approved Foreign Scheme assessments
  • polymers of low concerns (PLCs) are exempt from notification
  • expansion of the PLC criteria
  • changes to the definition of a new synthetic polymer
  • no more Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and labels required for the ‘no unreasonable risk’ cosmetics introduced at low volumes

For more information click here.

Under the new scheme, the 6 categories of introduction are:

• Listed introductions (the chemical is listed on the Inventory and introduction is within the terms of the listing (if any))
• Exempted introductions (very low risk)
• Reported introductions (low risk)
• Assessed introductions (medium to high risk)
• Commercial evaluation introductions (for testing the market viability of the chemical before full introduction)
• Exceptional circumstances introductions (Ministerial authorisation to allow urgent introduction to protect public health or the environment).

All changes to the regulatory schemes are done with good intent and we are hopeful this intent is rewarded as we work with the new rules.