Amendments to the Act in 2004 introduced a range of new exemptions and modified existing exemptions that allow importers and manufacturers of industrial chemicals that pose a low risk to human health and the environment to be introduced without notification to NICNAS (see Appendix 11 for details). To ensure the ongoing health, safety, and environmental protection from the use of these chemicals, the requirement for introducers to report these exempt chemicals and their quantity every 12 months for the previous registration year (1 September – 31 August) was introduced.

Annual reporting requirements have for the first time imposed NICNAS obligations on small volume research and educational users of chemicals, particularly those introducing chemicals under research and development (R&D) exemptions.

In 2005-06, NICNAS developed an implementation strategy for annual reporting requirements which included independent impact assessment to identify affected stakeholders, estimates of the quantity of chemicals involved and establish a lower reporting threshold below which no reporting would be required. Using this information NICNAS published Annual Reporting of Exemption Category Chemicals: Proposed Model of Implementation – Public Comment Paper in July 2005 with a period of public comment ending in late August 2005. Consultation with industry associations continued throughout the remainder of 2005 with five industry meetings and four information sessions dedicated to implementation of the model.

In March 2006 development of facilities for electronic submission of annual reports via the NICNAS website was completed, in order to provide the most convenient means of reporting by stakeholders.

Online reporting accounts were created by pre-populating the annual reporting modules with data already submitted to NICNAS. Information provided by introducers of new chemicals under exemptions, permits and self-assessment certificates was uploaded to each introducer’s online reporting account, so that at the end of the registration year only additional information regarding the quantity of introduction and any adverse effects will need to be reported. The outcome of this is to minimise the reporting burden on chemical introducers and encourage electronic reporting by industry.

While the design and development of the online reporting software was completed in November 2005, delays in the rollout of project occurred due to the need to ensure enhanced security architectural arrangements. NICNAS utilised this time by liaising with industry on outstanding concerns and involving industry representatives in the user acceptance testing of the software.

At the end of 2005-06, reporting accounts had been created for 204 introducers of chemicals under exemptions or relevant permits and certificates. This figure is expected to grow over forthcoming years as industry takes advantage of exemption, permit and self-assessed assessment certificate reforms introduced under the LRCC initiatives, and as awareness of annual reporting and other NICNAS obligations continues to be raised by ongoing education and outreach initiatives.

A breakdown of the users of the online reporting facility by industry sector is shown in Table 17.

Table 17: Users of the online reporting facility by industry sector

Chemical industry: basic chemicals (supply/manufacture)

64

Domestic/Cleaners

2

Electrical/electronic engineering industry

3

Engineering industry: civil

3

Engineering industry: mechanical

6

Mineral oil and fuel industry

7

Mining and metal extraction

1

Other

4

Packaging (including adhesives) industry

3

Paints and lacquers and varnishes industry

12

Personal/Cosmetics

69

Photocopying industry

3

Photographic industry

2

Plastics industry

3

Printing industry

4

Pulp and paper and board processing industry

1

Research and eduction analysis

16

Water treatment

1

Exemption advice

In 2005-06 industry advised NICNAS of 66 chemicals being introduced under the less than 100 kg cosmetic exemption and 76 chemicals being introduced under the less than 100 kg non-cosmetic exemption.

Under the LRCC reforms in 2004 the exemption threshold was increased from 10 kg per annum to 100 kg per annum. Introducers are not required to provide prior advice to NICNAS of new chemicals being introduced in cosmetics at no more than one per cent in formulation or at a total quantity of no more than 10 kg per annum. However, prior notice of introduction is required for chemicals in cosmetic products introduced at between 10 kg and 100 kg per annum. All exemptions require that the chemical meet certain safeguards to ensure that there is no unreasonable risk to consumers, workers or the environment.

All such exempt chemicals are subject to annual reporting to enable NICNAS to collect statistics on the number and types of chemicals entering Australia under this section of the Act.

The number of cosmetic exemption advice forms received in 2005-06 decreased by 37 per cent from 2004-05 continuing the decrease in the receipt of these forms since the introduction of the LRCC reforms. Of the 170 cosmetic exemption advice forms received since the introduction of the LRCC reforms in August 2004, 140 advised of quantities greater than 10 kg which would have previously required at least a Low Volume Chemical Permit. This equates to a potential saving to industry of $422,364 for cosmetic chemicals alone since LRCC reforms (not including savings attributable to the <1% exemption).

Where advice of introduction under exemption categories is provided, the relevant information is entered into the introducer’s online reporting account on their behalf to assist with annual reporting at the end of each registration year.

Figure 12 provides five-year trend data for exemptions advice forms received, illustrating the decrease in cosmetic exemption advice received since the introduction of LRCC reforms.

LRCC Reforms

Figure 12: Five-year trend data for exemptions advice forms received

Exemption category

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Cosmetic

276

388

396

104

66

Non-Cosmetic

12

34

19

51

76