Chemical Management changes coming in 2021


A revamped regime for classifying hazardous substances takes effect in late April 2021, in the interests of safety for all New Zealanders.

The changes will bring our chemical management into line with the rest of the world, support international trade, and facilitate improved regulatory compliance.

We are adopting the seventh revised edition of the Globally Harmonised System (GHS 7), which will implement hazard classifications tailored for New Zealand. These capture physical hazards such as flammability, human health hazards such as skin irritation, and environmental hazards such as how toxic a chemical is in water.

We have led this three-year project, working with the European Chemicals Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and other domestic regulators.

“These changes are for the benefit of all New Zealanders. Chemicals touch every area of our lives, and the world of chemical management is dynamic and fast-moving, so it’s important we stay on top of best practice,” says the EPA’s General Manager of Compliance, Monitoring, and Enforcement, Gayle Holmes.

More than 9,000 hazardous substances are individually approved for use in New Zealand. Their details will be captured in our new database, which has been configured for New Zealand’s unique requirements.

The new classification system and database are both on track to take effect on 30 April 2021.

“Now is a good time for importers and manufacturers to start getting familiar with the changes required of them. Although there is a transition period through to 2025 for many requirements, we strongly encourage industry to comply with the various changes sooner rather than later,” says Gayle Holmes.

As a starting point, importers and manufacturers should be looking carefully to get their hazard classification, labelling, and safety data sheets to comply with the new classification system.

Consumers should start to see the GHS 7 pictograms appearing on product labels, as New Zealand’s chemical labelling aligns with the rest of the world.

EPA New Zealand, 5 November 2020