Australia’s plastics law reform ‘at risk’

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: December 26, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Public Policy, Materials, Suppliers

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA (Dec. 26, 10:50 a.m. ET) —Ă‚ Australia’s proposed national plastic and chemical regulations, designed to streamline laws across the country, might never become a reality, Australia’s reform council has warned.

The country’s peak intergovernmental forum, the Council of Australian Governments in Canberra, wants to introduce the proposed harmonized laws. COAG recognized chemicals and plastics policy is a regulatory “hotspot” in February 2006 and agreed existing regulation is fragmented because it is administered by multiple agencies across all government levels.

In 2008, COAG agreed to introduce reforms reducing the chemicals and plastics industries’ regulatory compliance burden. COAG agreed gaps, inconsistencies and duplication in the regulatory framework have created inefficient management of hazard identification and risk.

In a December report the COAG Reform Council (CRC), which was established to help COAG with its reform agenda, warned that ongoing delays have reached a point where “we are not confident the [plastics and chemicals] reform will be delivered.”

The council said the federal government has not yet completed two targets set for June 2010, and governments collectively have not completed other milestones.

In April, Australia’s Plastics and Chemical Industries Association (PACIA) CEO Margaret Donnan said it had been four years since COAG agreed reform was needed, yet there had been little or no progress in its implementation.

“Australia is missing out on newer, better, safer, more sustainable chemical and plastic products and technologies,” Donnan said.

She said there are 144 pieces of legislation across Australia specifically related to chemicals and plastics, on top of all the other regulatory burdens facing industry more broadly.

“The enormous cost [and] lengthy delays in gaining approvals, combined with Australia’s relatively small market, means companies simply cannot justify manufacturing and importing improved new products for supply to Australian industry and consumers,” Donnan said. “In some cases, the regulatory cost is greater than the product unit cost.”

Plastics News sought Donnan’s response to the council’s warning, but the association’s media spokeswoman did not respond.

COAG was created in 1992 to identify and implement nationally significant policy reforms requiring coordinated action by all Australian governments. Members are Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and premiers and chief ministers from all states and territories.

COAG’s final 2012 meeting was Dec. 7. COAG said it would respond to CRC’s summary report at its first 2013 meeting and consider action required to manage its chemicals and plastics reform concerns.


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Australia’s plastics law reform ‘at risk’

By Kate Tilley
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Published: December 26, 2012 6:00 am ET

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