Why is our scheme changing?

Why is there going to be a new scheme?

The new scheme is the result of a reform process to improve the regulation of industrial chemicals in Australia. You can read background information in our web archives.

The main purpose of the new scheme will remain the same — to help protect the Australian people and the environment by assessing the risks of industrial chemicals and providing information and recommendations to promote their safe use.

The new scheme has been designed to be a more risk proportionate regulatory scheme, while maintaining Australia’s robust health, safety and environmental standards.

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Key changes from 1 July 2020 you need to know about

  • Our regulatory effort will be based on the likely risk of a chemical introduction. To help achieve this:
    • there will be 6 categories of introduction with different regulatory requirements that are proportionate to the likely level of risk
    • this new way of categorising and introducing industrial chemicals will allow us to focus our pre-introduction assessment on higher risk chemical introductions
    • there will be an increased focus on post-introduction evaluation and monitoring to help maintain the protection of health and safety of the public, workers and the environment
  • Lower risk chemical introductions will have streamlined introduction pathways, resulting in reduced regulatory burden for industry. These changes mean:
    • more incentive to introduce greener, safer new industrial chemicals, including replacing more hazardous existing chemicals
    • reduced costs to businesses and consumers using lower risk chemicals
    • Exempted and Reported introduction categories = reductions in the time taken to introduce the chemicals to market compared to the current scheme and no notification fees
  • Higher risk chemicals — there will be improved protections for the public, workers, and the environment.
    • we will have the ability to impose conditions of introduction on higher risk chemicals
    • we can refuse to allow introduction of the chemical or stop its introduction if its risks to human health and the environment can't be managed — this power does not exist under the current scheme
  • Greater use of international assessment materials, including through a streamlined introduction pathway for introductions that have been assessed by a trusted international body.
  • Improved monitoring and compliance powers.
    • new and increased compliance powers, with civil and criminal penalties for breaches — will help us better identify and manage non-compliance to maintain health and environmental protections
  • Improved approaches to reviewing chemicals on the market.
    • replacing the current overly prescriptive post-market assessment process with a more responsive and flexible evaluation process
  • Greater transparency by striking a balance between confidentiality and publicly available information.
    • publication of more meaningful information about our assessments and evaluations, with confidentiality achieved through masking the chemical name or end use
  • Restricting the use of animal test data for supporting the introduction of ingredients used in cosmetics.
    • banning the use of animal test data generated after 1 July 2020 for supporting the categorisation or assessment of chemicals used solely in cosmetics

Some other regulatory changes have already happened — find out more

A snapshot of introduction categories under the new scheme

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).
Key features of the Exempted, Reported and Assessed chemical introduction categories
Key feature

Exempted introductions

Reported introductions

Assessed introductions

Indicative risk

Very low risk

Low risk

Medium to high risk

Pathway to Inventory inclusion

No — Chemicals will not be included on the Inventory

No — Chemicals will not be included on the Inventory

Yes — Chemicals will be ultimately included on the Inventory

Level of interaction with the new scheme

Must be declared after the first year of introduction

Must be reported prior to introduction

Must be assessed prior to introduction

Record keeping and/or information requirements

Record keeping requirements and basic information submitted as part of declaration

Record keeping requirements and specified information submitted as part of report

Specified information in the form must be submitted

Details published

Identifying information on introduced chemicals not published

Limited information on specified chemical introductions published (e.g. introductions via the International pathway)

Assessment statement published and linked to later Inventory listing

Continuing obligations

Annual declaration that the chemical introduction still meets the criteria for this category

Annual declaration that the chemical introduction still meets the criteria for this category

Post-assessment information obligations

Monitoring by the new scheme

Post-introduction monitoring

Post-introduction monitoring

Post-introduction monitoring

For commercial or other reasons (for example, wanting an eventual listing of the chemical on the Inventory), introducers may apply for an assessment certificate for chemical introductions meeting Exempted or Reported criteria.

Further information

The Australian Government’s decision to reform NICNAS

There has been extensive consultation on all aspects of the reforms.

Last update 29 August 2019