Australia's proposed chemicals regulation will 'increase complexity'

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Australia's proposed chemicals regulation will 'increase complexity'

Related tags Australia

Australia is in the process of trying to simplify its regulation of industrial chemicals, including many used widely across the beauty industry, but various brands and bodies have expressed concerns with the currently proposed changes.

NICNAS, the country’s national chemicals registration organisation, has invited public feedback on each of its three consultation papers on the issue.

Estée Lauder, P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Cosmetics Europe and Croda are among the brands and organisations that have responded to the proposals, which many have criticised as serving only to increase, rather than reduce, complexity around regulation.

While supportive of an improved and risk based proportionate regulation system, we have found that the proposals as outlined so far really only increase complexity for industry, not as was the objective, reduce complexity, and therefore cost​,” a response from Estée Lauder stated.

Question of complexity

The Australian Government says it is attempting to simplify the regulation of industrial chemicals because currently, the amount of time, cost and effort involved in regulation outweighs the risk of many of the chemicals in question.

The Australian Government is reforming the regulation of industrial chemicals so that the assessment effort is more proportionate to the risks likely to be posed by industrial chemicals, while also maintaining Australia’s robust health, safety and environmental standards​,” NICNAS explains.

The responses from the industry and related interested parties generally push back against the complexity of the changes proposed.

We believe that the current proposal increases complexity for industry, is out of step with other global economies, and is unlikely to deliver meaningful reduction in the over- regulation of low-risk everyday products such as cosmetics,”​ stated trade association Cosmetics Europe.

Restricting innovation

The Australian government’s proposals are likely to restrict innovation, some respondents to the consultation papers predict, and fail to take into account the fact that international regulation can ensure safety before products reach Australia.

We are concerned by the complexity of the system and the height level of information required that will discourage the companies, and in particular the small and medium ones, to innovate in Australia by introducing cosmetic products containing new and safe ingredients,​” said Cosmetics Europe.

The reform does not take into account existing regulations on cosmetics products at the international level that could avoid re-assessing ingredients already considered as safe.”

NICNAS will now take into consideration these responses from interested parties in finalising its draft of the proposed regulatory changes, before it is reviewed and decided on as legislation by the Australian parliament.  

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