January 10, 2023
By Lily Hou, senior regulatory specialist, PhD, CHMM
In December 2022, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) of Australia published the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard (IChEMS) Online Register, which is a record of chemical scheduling decisions made under the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management (Register) Act 2021.
The IChEMS Register contains seven schedules of industrial chemicals that are listed according to their environmental risks:
Schedule 1: Very low or no hazard to the environment
Schedule 2: Hazardous, low risk
Schedule 3: Hazardous, moderate risk
Schedule 4: Hazardous, higher risk
Schedule 5: Potentially significant and long-lasting impact
Schedule 6: Significant risk of serious or irreversible harm to the environment
Schedule 7: Significant risk and highly hazardous to the environment
Currently the Register contains 8 chemicals. This includes 3 Stockholm Convention persistent organic pollutants of high concern to the environment: Hexabromobiphenyl (HBB), Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) and Polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCN), and 5 chemicals of lower concern, which are used in cosmetics, printing and coating or automotive oils in Australia.
Classification of a chemical into one of the seven schedules are made by applying the criteria specified in the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management (Register) Principles 2022, based on both hazards and end uses of the chemical in Australia. For example, a PBT chemical without an essential use will be generally listed in the Register as a Schedule 7 chemical, while the chemical will be listed on Schedule 6 if it has an essential use in Australia, with no viable alternatives to the chemical.
The Register also includes matching control measures for managing the chemicals to minimize risks that the chemicals pose to the environment. Industrial chemicals in Schedule 5 to 7 pose greater risks and are subject to tighter controls. Schedule 7 chemicals will be typically prohibited from import, manufacture and use, while Schedule 5 and 6 industrial chemicals can be controlled through licenses, permits or regulations.
DCCEEW will continue to update the IChEMS online register as regulatory scheduling decisions are made. The state and territories governments are developing legislations to adopt IChEMS and implement the control measures into their regulatory framework.
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