The Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard (IChEMS) is a national approach to managing chemical import, use and disposal. It aims to manage the environmental risks from industrial chemicals.

The Victorian Government is working with the Australian Government, and the other state and territory governments, to strengthen and make consistent the management of industrial chemicals across Australia via IChEMS.

This will complement national work. It will also support the Victorian Government's efforts to increase recycling and resource recovery by reducing chemical contamination in waste streams.

How does IChEMS operate?

In 2021, the Australian Government passed the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management (Register) Act 2021. This Act establishes the IChEMS Register.

Industrial chemicals will be listed on the IChEMS Register in one of 7 schedules according to their environmental risk.

Management measures may be specified to address the risks of the chemicals listed. This may include restrictions on manufacture, import and use.

  • For lower risk chemicals, businesses may be required to obtain and share information on the chemical's environmental risks and apply practicable measures to eliminate these risks.
  • Uses of industrial chemicals that pose greater risks to the environment and human health will have tighter controls. Industry, including commercial users, importers and manufactures, will be responsible for managing the introduction, use and disposal of industrial chemicals.

You can find more information on IChEMS at the Australian Government website Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard - IChEMS - DCCEEW.

Victoria's approach to implementing IChEMS

The Victorian Government expects that the national law on industrial chemicals will be followed. Many of the risks of industrial chemicals will already be addressed by current Victorian law.

The Environment Protection Act 2017 and its subordinate legislation established a duties-based framework focused on preventing harm. The Act established the general environmental duty, which requires all Victorians to take reasonably practicable measures to reduce the risk of harm of their activities to the environment and human health. Businesses involved in the use, manufacture and management of industrial chemicals who are complying with the general environmental duty, would already be satisfying the risk management measures applicable to industrial chemicals listed in the IChEMS Register as they are inherently preventative.

For example, they would already be:

  • identifying the risks of the industrial chemicals and developing, assessing, evaluating and monitoring control measures
  • applying practicable control measures to eliminate risks and where these risks cannot be eliminated, reducing the risks and managing these residual risks using best available techniques and environmental practices
  • ensuring any persons handling the chemical are aware of its risks and applying practicable control.

This is likely to be relevant for chemicals that pose a lower risk to the environment, such as the chemicals listed in Schedules 1 and 2 of the IChEMS Register.

However, the Victorian Government is conducting a case-by-case analysis of each chemical listed in the IChEMS register to determine whether further controls are required to manage their risks.

In practice, this will align the management of industrial chemicals across all Australian states and territories.

If further controls are required, a public consultation will take place via Engage Victoria.

If you wish to receive further information about work the Victorian Government is progressing under the IChEMS program, please email environment.protection@delwp.vic.gov.au.

The Australian Government website IChEMS Minimum Standards - DCCEEW has more information on the IChEMS program’s risk management measures.

The status of IChEMS

You can find information on listed chemicals on the Australian Government's IChEMS Online Register - DCCEEW.

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) recently invited feedback on proposed standards for managing Dechlorane Plus®, UV-328, boric acid, melamine, and β-Alanine.

You can find information on the DCCEEW's past and present consultations on the Consultation Hub page for Public comments on IChEMS proposed standards.

The role of the Environment Protection Authority

In Victoria, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) regulates the management of industrial chemicals to protect the environment and human health. In the design of any new controls, DEECA works closely with the EPA to ensure they can be adequately implemented.

Contact us

Please reach out if you want to learn more about the Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard.

You can email us at environment.protection@delwp.vic.gov.au.

Page last updated: 21/05/24