Bronwyn Capanna, executive director for Accord, the industry association for the Australasian hygiene, cosmetic and specialty products industry, touched on a number of important areas, including global harmonization and trade expansion and APEC chemical dialogue, but the stress was on national regulation and the need to up-date it.
“Our number one issue in Australia remains the over-regulation of low risk products,” said Capanna.
“We have a hugely complex and fragmented system that has evolved over time through states and territories and commonwealth. We have 144 pieces of regulation that specifically relate to the chemicals industry and that refers to the chemicals industry in its broadest sense, which in turn relates all the way down to cosmetics.”
Australia out of step with international regulation
Capanna explained her belief that currently Australian regulation is out of step with the regulation of products and ingredients in other markets, and this means that Australia is falling behind other important markets such as Canada, the US, Europe, and in particular its neighbor, New Zealand.
“Our system has become a barrier to innovation and it is preventing the ready production of new products and in turn it is being increasingly described as a trade irritant,” Capanna said.
“It is well overdue for reform and we have been in a reform mode at various political and regulatory levels since 2000, without a lot of progress, unfortunately.”
New Zealand is the regulation model to follow
Looking at solutions to this problem, Capanna believes that regulation in the New Zealand market is where it is at, and expressed her desire to move Australian regulation in the same sort of direction, referring to the country as having the right model.
According to Capanna the New Zealand authorities are using group standards and cosmetics directive frameworks that focus primarily on genuinely hazardous products, while also recognizing overseas approvals and labeling.
Ultimately this leads to increased regulation harmonization, allowing New Zealand-made cosmetic and personal care products to be launched in overseas markets such as Europe and the US without change. A position Capanna would like to see Australian cosmetics companies in.