Assessing chemical substances now more efficient


The Government has reformed the approval process for the use of chemicals in New Zealand, making their assessment more efficient without compromising the safety of New Zealanders or the environment.

Amendments to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO Act), passed by Parliament today, enable the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to make better use of information from international regulators - so that New Zealand does not have to repeat the work and investigations those regulators have already done.

“We rely on tens of thousands of chemicals in New Zealand, in industrial processes, in agriculture, and in many other aspects of modern life, including cleaning products in our own homes,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

“The Government is committed to making changes, where needed, to improve efficiency and safeguard people and the environment. These new amendments to the HSNO Act will significantly improve the management of chemicals in New Zealand.”

Every hazardous substance imported into, or manufactured in, New Zealand needs to be covered by an approval issued under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO Act).

Before the new legislation, assessing and reassessing hazardous substances was often resource intensive and could be costly and time-consuming for business.

It sometimes meant beneficial chemicals, including safer alternatives to existing ones, took longer to come into use. In addition, delayed reassessments sometimes meant that safety and environmental controls for chemicals became unfit for purpose, while the chemicals continued to be used under pre-existing authorities.

“It is important that the EPA is able to effectively and efficiently manage these chemicals, so that their benefits are realised, while not compromising the health and welfare of our citizens or the environment,” David Parker said.

“This is important so we can quickly get safer and more environmentally friendly chemicals in use in this country, and better control the use of older, less safe substances.”