Australia: Agency Laments Violations by Cosmetics Firms

On its Web site, the Australian National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) complains that many cosmetics firms violate current law and must therefore count on significant fines.

The background: Companies that want to import new substances – like the ingredients of cosmetics – to Australia must register the chemicals with the NICNAS according to the Australian Industrial Chemicals – Notification and Assessment – Act 1989). Nevertheless, companies are exempt from the notification requirement in certain cases. For example, the requirement does not apply if the concentration of the chemical in cosmetics products is less than 1% by weight. However, companies must have NICNAS approve the exemption and provide information on the substance to be imported. For example, companies must provide information on the health safety of the substance along with other data (like aquatic toxicity). But the failure of companies to deliver this information is precisely what has angered the leaders of NICNAS.

Three-quarters of all the substances covered by exemptions are cosmetics. According to the most recent NICNAS report, an exemption was claimed for 3,249 substances between September 2016 and August 2017, and companies stated that concentrations of all were under the 1% rule. Additional grounds for exemptions are defined in Sections 21(4) and 21(6) of the Industrial Chemicals – Notification and Assessment – Act 1989. More information on this you will find in the NICNAS report mentioned above.

The chemicals law is currently being revised, and the process is being postponed to 2019.

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