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The main chemical management regulation in New Zealand is the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO Act) which was administered by the Ministry of the Environment and went effective for new organisms from July 29th 1998 and for hazardous substances from July 2nd 2001. The purpose of the HSNO Act is to protect the environment, and the health and safety of people and communities, by preventing or managing the adverse effects of hazardous substances and new organisms. The Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) was established under this Act to assess and decide on applications to introduce hazardous substances or new organisms into New Zealand. In July 2011, ERMA became the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). There are 22 regulations under this Act covering a broad scope of controls including fireworks and other explosive controls, and the management, disposal, classification, packaging and transport of hazardous substances and new organisms.

The HSNO Act defines hazardous substances as substances that have 1 or more of the following intrinsic properties:

  • Explosiveness
  • Flammability
  • Capacity to oxidize
  • Corrosiveness
  • Toxicity (including chronic toxicity) 
  • Eco-toxicity, with or without bioaccumulation
  • Substances that on contact with air or water generates a substance with any of the above listed hazardous properties

It should be noted that the term “hazardous substance” in HSNO Act include both single-component chemical substances and formulated products. The following substances are exempted from the HSNO Act:

  • Hazardous substances that are only being used in an exempt laboratory
  • Medicine
  • Infectious substances, UN Class 6
  • Ozone-depleting substances
  • Food
  • Manufactured articles

According to the HSNO Act, the manufacturers and importers of hazardous substances or new organisms that are not already legally present in New Zealand must apply to ERMA/EPA for approval before introducing the substances or organisms into the country. Enterprises should check the New Zealand Inventory of Chemicals (NAIoC) to determine whether their chemicals are new in New Zealand or not.

It should be noted that new non-hazardous chemicals don’t need to be notified to the authorities and the NZIoC doesn’t list any non-hazardous chemical substances.

There are two types of approval for hazardous substances manufactured or imported in New Zealand:

  • Individual substance approval

If a single-component chemical on its own or contained in a formulated product is hazardous and it is not listed on NZIoC, a new chemical notification needs to be submitted to EPA for the hazardous component. This process is called individual substance approval.

  • Group standard approval

Group standard approval is for a group of hazardous substances with a similar nature, type or use. A group standard sets out conditions that enable a group of hazardous substances to be managed similarly. Such conditions include specific requirements on labelling, SDS, and packaging etc. for group standard approval, manufacturers and importers should carry out their own assessment and assign their product to certain group standards based on the hazards and intended uses of the products. Many group standards require the hazardous components of products covered under these approvals to be listed on the NZIoC.

  • New Zealand Proposes Adoption of GHS Revision 7 Classification System

      November 7, 2019    Horace Wang    1048

    Takehome: New Zealand is consulting on the proposed adoption of the GHS Revision 7 classification system, aiming to increase the efficiency of chemical management, and enhance the effectiveness of the HSNO Act. In the consultation notice, the proposed changes in...
  • New Zealand Proposes to Update the Hazard Classifications of 79 Substances

      September 2, 2019    Deborah Xiong    933

    Takehome: A Consultation has been issued by EPA seeking public feedback on the update of the hazard classifications of 79 substances on August 29th, 2019. This consultation will end on September 25th, 2019. Relevant interested parties can check the application...
  • New Zealand Consults on Proposed Changes to Hazardous Substances Management System

      August 21, 2019    Deborah Xiong    1032

    Takehome: On August 19th, 2019, New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment issued a public consultation on proposed changes to its hazardous substances management system. This consultation will end on September 30th, 2019 at 5pm, and any interested...
  • New Zealand Chemical Inventory Updated

      July 12, 2019    Deborah Xiong    1549

    Recently, New Zealand EPA released an update to the New Zealand Inventory of Chemicals (NZloC). A total of 159 chemical substances have been newly added into the original NZloC, the inventory “status”* of three chemical substances has been updated and 28 chemical...
  • New Zealand EPA Releases HSNO Enforcement Report 2018

      June 29, 2019    Nora Wang    1284

    On June 27, 2019, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) of New Zealand published the HSNO Enforcement Report 2018. The report looks at the enforcement of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (the HSNO Act) for the 2017/18 financial year (July 1...
  • New Zealand Establishes New Permit Scheme for HFCs Import/Export

      February 22, 2019    lynn liang    1924

    In Dec, 2018, New Zealand updated the Ozone Layer Protection Amendment Regulations 2018[1] to align with international conventions like the Montreal Protocol and its Kigali Amendment for reducing the levels of HFCs (Hydroflurocarbons) in the Earth’s atmosphere. The...

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