Understanding your chemicals and chemical products

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Do you know what types of chemicals or chemical products you are handling?

Different types of chemicals and chemical products are subject to different regulatory requirements and these requirements are often administered by different agencies. Chemicals and chemical products are regulated in five broad categories at a national level:

Are you aware that you may have to deal with Commonwealth, State or Territory, and local governments when operating a chemicals and plastic business?

In Australia, different levels of government have different regulatory responsibilities within the national regulatory framework for chemicals and plastics. It is important to note that you may be required to interact with different levels of government if you are manufacturing, importing, supplying, exporting or disposing of chemicals. The roles and responsibilities at each level of government are broadly outlined below:

  • Registration (companies/products)
  • Permits and notifications (production/processing of chemicals)
  • Hazard and risk assessment of chemicals and chemical products
  • Implement international agreements and regulate international trade
States and Territories
  • Risk management of chemical safety including:
    • Control of use (agvet)
    • Protection of public health
    •  Work health and safety
    • Transport (by road and rail) and storage of dangerous goods
    • Environmental protection (emissions and disposal)
  • Planning and waste disposal (from powers given to local governments by the relevant state)

Have you considered that you may need one or more licences to operate your business?

Business permits and licences are managed through the states and territories. Licence and permit requirements may vary between different jurisdictions.

Each state has a Business Licence Information Service (BLIS).

Contact details can be located on the registrations and licences page of the business.gov.au website.

Facility permits and annual notification requirements for the manufacture and processing of specific chemicals above certain threshold quantities are administered by the Commonwealth Government through the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

  • In particular, check whether the chemical you are manufacturing or processing into a product or destroying (for waste disposal) is listed under Schedule 2 or 3 of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the threshold quantities that trigger permit requirements administered by ASNO.
  • Also check whether the chemical you are manufacturing belongs to a class of chemical compounds called “discrete organic chemicals”. There is an annual past notification requirement to ASNO for production quantities above certain thresholds. For such purposes you need to register your company with ASNO.
  • Contact details are available on the ASNO website (www.dfat.gov.au/cwco).

Please note that it is important to check with the relevant Commonwealth, State or Territory agencies about different licensing requirements placed on different chemical products before you start trading products.

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