Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Bill passes

The Federal Government is delivering improvements to the way environmental risks from chemicals are managed in Australia, with the passing of the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management (Register) Bill 2020 in Parliament last week.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said that with more than 40,000 chemicals used in Australia, the establishment of the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard would provide greater protection for households, workplaces and agriculture.

“Chemicals are used in household items, from cosmetics to paints, cleaning products, plastics and packaging materials. They are used in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and fuel production and a wide range of applications,” she said.

“We will now have a consistent system of Commonwealth management that ensures consistency across all states in relation to the use, storage, and disposal of chemicals.”

Part of a package of five bills to establish a national framework to manage the ongoing use, handling and disposal of industrial chemicals, the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Bill establishes decision-making principles that set out characteristics for categorising industrial chemicals according to their level of concern to the environment based on their use.

The Bill also enables the minister to make scheduling decisions to categorise an industrial chemical and set out the controls applicable to the use, handling and disposal of an industrial chemical.

“The legislation recognises the need to act now to reduce the potential for environmental damage, while future-proofing our approach to be able to respond to new chemicals and new scientific understanding,” Ley said.

The new chemical standards will be placed on an easily searchable public register that will provide a single source of information on how chemicals should be managed, to prevent harm to the environment, animals and Australia’s communities.

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