Australia’s industrial chemicals roadmap has been released! The roadmap sets out key steps, roles and responsibilities in the transition to IChEMS. All Australian jurisdictions are working to adopt and implement IChEMS into their own regulatory frameworks from late 2022.
Consultation on the IChEMS Principles
You are invited to comment on proposed decision-making Principles (the Principles) to be established by legislative instrument under the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management (Register) Act 2021. These Principles will guide scheduling decisions for chemicals. They are the basis for classification of a chemical into one of seven schedules and for setting any management standards that apply to a chemical.
You can make a submission on the proposed Principles until 24 May 2022.
Improving chemicals regulation
All Australian governments are working together to strengthen chemicals management laws to protect our land, air and water.
We have established the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard – or IChEMS – to help industry and governments manage the environmental risks of chemicals.
IChEMS is a national approach to managing chemical introduction, use and disposal. It will deliver more consistent regulation and make it easier for industry to choose less harmful chemicals.
Australia’s industrial chemicals roadmap sets out how Australia is delivering the new IChEMS framework. It was developed collaboratively by the Commonwealth, states and territories as part of broader reforms to chemicals and waste management. It was released in March 2022, following agreement by all Australian environment ministers.
The roadmap explains how governments will work together to implement nationally consistent standards for chemicals management within each jurisdiction’s regulatory frameworks and ways of working. It builds on Australia’s partnership approach to chemicals management and recognises the roles and responsibilities of scientists, governments, industry and communities. The roadmap also outlines the timeframes for commencing each stage of the reform, with flexibility to adapt to each jurisdiction’s specific needs and circumstances.
The IChEMS Register will be a record of chemical scheduling decisions made under the Industrial Chemicals Environment Management (Register) Act 2021.
We expect the first scheduling decisions to be made in the second half of 2022. The IChEMS Register instrument and a database of publicly accessible chemical scheduling decisions will be available to provide easy access to decisions.
IChEMS scheduling of chemicals will provide information on their level of concern, and the controls that should be applied to protect the environment. Chemicals will be listed in one of seven schedules according to their environmental risk. This information will be easily available to industry, government and the community through the public IChEMS Register.
Scheduling decisions will be made under the Industrial Chemicals Environment Management (Register) Act 2021. Uses of industrial chemicals that pose greater risks to people and our environment will have tighter controls.
Information gathered through public consultation will be an important part of the scheduling process. This information will support transparent and informed scheduling.
In addition to public consultations, the Minister may also seek advice from the IChEMS advisory committee, consult state and territory environment ministers or request information from a specific person to inform scheduling decisions.
Our scheduling strategy sets out our approach to selecting chemicals for IChEMS scheduling.
This strategy outlines our broad approach to selecting chemicals for scheduling under IChEMS. It sets out our priorities for the first two years of scheduling. Following consultation, we will develop more detailed scheduling workplans from 2023.
There are more than 40,000 industrial chemicals available for use in Australia. All of these chemicals are potential targets for scheduling.
Our main goal in scheduling industrial chemicals is to provide industry and regulators with information on environmental controls for chemicals being used in Australia.
In selecting chemicals for IChEMS scheduling we will balance:
- prioritising chemicals that need to be managed more urgently (chemicals of concern)
- providing information on the relative risks of chemicals, to support industry to make informed choices
- making the most of available information
- scheduling as many chemicals as soon as possible.
We have two early priorities for scheduling:
- Aligning IChEMS with existing chemical management frameworks. Risk assessments carried out under the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS) will inform IChEMS scheduling decisions.
- Globally recognised industrial chemicals of concern, such as those listed in international conventions. We will initially prioritise those that aren't consistently controlled in Australia. The conventions of most interest are the:
- Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
- Minamata Convention on Mercury
- Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
Before identifying the next priority areas, we will consult with risk managers, governments and the community to focus on providing information they find most useful. For example, scheduling could prioritise:
- chemicals proposed for listing on international chemicals conventions
- chemicals controlled in countries with comparable safety standards
- chemicals of interest for supporting a safe circular economy
- alternatives for chemicals of concern
- opportunities for scheduling broad groups of chemicals, including low concern chemicals
- grouping chemicals for scheduling based on their function or use.
Our priority focus areas for scheduling chemicals from 2022 and 2023 are as follows.
- Chemicals with an AICIS assessment certificate
- Industrial chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention but not yet ratified by Australia.
- Chemicals assessed under the AICIS evaluation Rolling Action Plan
- Aligning with existing or emerging Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata obligations.
Throughout 2022-23 we will consult to determine the next focus areas for scheduling, post-2023. This may include:
- chemicals of emerging concern
- lower concern chemicals, including alternatives for chemicals of concern
- chemical groups based on their function or use.
We will begin developing IChEMS scheduling workplans from 2023, including each year's focus areas and indicative chemical lists. These workplans will be informed by AICIS assessment activity as well as information gathered from our stakeholders.
We will continue to work closely with AICIS to align scheduling and assessment activities, including acting on new information from AICIS.
IChEMS Advisory Committee
The Advisory Committee on the Environmental Management of Industrial Chemicals (IChEMS Advisory Committee) is a statutory committee established under the Industrial Chemicals Environment Management (Register) Act 2021.
The IChEMS Advisory Committee provides expert advice to the Minister on matters related to IChEMS scheduling. This includes environmental, social, and economic factors when scheduling high-concern chemicals.
The IChEMS Advisory Committee comprises a Chair and from three to eight other appointed members. The appointments for the first term of the committee commence on 20 April 2022.
- Dr Brian Richards (Chair), former Executive Director, Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme
- Professor Derek Muir, Senior Research Scientist, Environment and Climate Change, Government of Canada
- Dr Jenny Stauber, Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO Land and Water
- Professor Kerrie Wilson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Sustainability Strategy), Queensland University of Technology
- Professor Mark Taylor, Chief Environmental Scientist, Environment Protection Authority Victoria
- Professor Sanghamitra Mahanty, ARC Future Fellow - Resources, Environment and Development Program, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University
- Ms Tarah Hagen, Technical Discipline Manager – Toxicology and Risk Assessment, SLR Consulting Australia.
IChEMS Register charges
A cost recovery framework is being developed to recover scheduling costs from introducers of industrial chemicals who import or manufacture chemicals.
Fees will be determined after industry consultation later in 2022. Fee collection will coincide with the AICIS annual invoicing period.
IChEMS fee collection is currently due to commence from 1 September 2023.
To ask us a question or to subscribe for IChEMS updates, email us at email@example.com