The Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard (IChEMS) is a national approach to managing chemical use, storage, handling and disposal.
Chemicals are listed on the IChEMS Register in one of seven schedules, as shown in the infographic below, to provide information on their relative environmental risk.
The IChEMS Register records regulatory scheduling decisions, including risk-proportionate control measures that should be applied to protect the environment.
The IChEMS Online Register makes it easy to find out whether a chemical is listed in the Register and gives you information on what you need to do to manage the environmental risks of listed chemicals.
You can inform IChEMS regulatory scheduling decisions. You can have your say during public consultations on proposed regulatory scheduling decisions and provide information when we call for information before scheduling chemicals. To have your say, visit our consultation hub.
Your information is important to make sure regulatory scheduling decisions are fit-for purpose and supports transparent and informed scheduling.
Anyone providing information about IChEMS scheduling can request that commercially sensitive or otherwise confidential information not be publicly disclosed.
In addition to information gathered through public consultation, scheduling decisions are also informed by:
- risk assessments conducted by the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS)
- advice from the IChEMS Advisory Committee
- information from consultation with state and territory governments
- information from specific people, e.g. from chemical introducers.
The Schedules of the Register
Chemicals are listed on the ICHEMS Register in one of seven schedules based on their risk characteristics. Industrial chemicals that pose greater risks to people and our environment have tighter controls.
- Industrial chemicals of greatest environmental concern are listed in Schedules 6 and 7. These chemicals are likely to cause serious or irreversible harm to the environment. All uses of chemicals in Schedule 6 and 7 should be phased out, except essential uses.
- Industrial chemicals listed in Schedules 2 to 5 of the Register are of intermediate concern to the environment. These chemicals are allocated to higher schedules as the environmental risks increase. They have controls that are proportionate to the type and level of risk.
- Industrial chemicals of lowest concern will be listed in Schedule 1 of the Register. These chemicals do not have risk characteristics that would place them in a higher schedule and are therefore of lowest concern to the environment.
The Register controls
IChEMS regulatory scheduling ensures that risk-proportionate controls are applied to industrial chemicals. The infographic below shows how the types and stringency of IChEMS controls escalate with increasing risk and hazard of the scheduled chemical.
- The IChEMS Minimum Standards will apply to all industrial chemicals, including scheduled and unscheduled chemicals.
- Risk Management Measures are outcome-based requirements that are included in the Register to manage specific risks.
- Prohibitions or restrictions may be applied to chemicals where risks cannot be controlled through Risk Management Measures.
Our scheduling strategy sets out our approach to selecting chemicals for IChEMS scheduling.
This strategy outlines our broad approach to selecting chemicals for scheduling under IChEMS. It sets out our priorities for the first two years of scheduling.
Following consultation, we will develop more detailed scheduling workplans from 2023.
There are more than 40,000 industrial chemicals available for use in Australia. All of these chemicals are potential targets for scheduling.
Our main goal in scheduling industrial chemicals is to provide industry and regulators with information on actions they need to take to protect the environment from chemicals being used in Australia.
In selecting chemicals for IChEMS scheduling we will balance:
- prioritising chemicals that need to be managed more urgently (chemicals of high concern)
- providing information on the relative risks of chemicals, to support industry to make informed choices
- making the most of available information
- scheduling as many chemicals as soon as possible.
We have two early priorities for scheduling:
- Aligning IChEMS with existing chemical management frameworks. Risk assessments carried out under the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS) will inform IChEMS scheduling decisions.
- Globally recognised industrial chemicals of concern, such as those listed in international conventions. We will initially prioritise those that aren't consistently controlled in Australia. The conventions of most interest are the:
- Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
- Minamata Convention on Mercury
- Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade.
Before identifying the next priority areas, we will consult with the community, risk managers, and governments to focus on providing information they find most useful.
Our priority focus areas for scheduling chemicals from 2022 and 2023 are as follows.
- Chemicals with an AICIS assessment certificate
- Industrial chemicals listed under the Stockholm Convention but not yet ratified by Australia.
- Chemicals assessed under the AICIS evaluation Rolling Action Plan
- Aligning with existing or emerging Rotterdam, Stockholm and Minamata obligations.
Throughout 2022-23 we will consult to determine the next focus areas for scheduling, after 2023.
We will begin developing IChEMS scheduling workplans from 2023, including each year's focus areas and indicative chemical lists.
We will continue to work closely with AICIS to align scheduling and assessment activities, including acting on new information from AICIS.
The ICEMR Act and instruments
Scheduling decisions are made under the Industrial Chemicals Environment Management (Register) Act 2021 (ICEMR Act).
The Rules, Principles, and Register are legislative instruments made under the ICEMR Act.
The Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management (Register) Rules 2022 (the Rules) lay out additional matters the Minister must consider when making scheduling decisions.
Scheduling decisions are guided by the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management (Register) Principles 2022 (the Principles).
The Principles are a supporting instrument to the ICEMR Act and the basis for classification of a chemical into one of seven schedules and for setting any management standards that apply to that chemical.
The decision-maker must apply the criteria in the Principles when making scheduling decisions.
The Australian PBT Criteria are part of the Principles. These Criteria inform the categorisation of organic chemicals as persistent (P), bioaccumulative (B) and toxic (T).
The IChEMS Register is a record of regulatory chemical scheduling decisions made under the ICEMR Act.
The first scheduling decisions were made at the end of 2022, and recorded in the IChEMS Register instrument.
Public consultation on the draft decision-making principles was undertaken in early 2022.
Public consultation on draft legislation for the National Standard for Environmental Risk Management of Industrial Chemicals (now known as IChEMS) was undertaken in 2020. An archived version of this consultation material is available.