New Zealand HSNO Act

Little Pro on 2016-01-05

New Zealand's Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, known as HSNO Act, came into force for new organisms on 29 July 1998 and for hazardous substances on 2 July 2001. The HSNO manages the risks that hazardous substances and new organisms may pose to human health and the environment in New Zealand.

Under the HSNO Act, anybody intending to introduce a hazardous substance or new organism that is not already legally present in New Zealand must apply to the Environmental Risk Management Authority for approval to do so. All users of hazardous substances and new organisms must comply with the controls that are imposed by the Authority on approvals.

Definition of Hazardous Substances and Exemptions

Under the HSNO Act, hazardous substances include any substances that can damage the environment or adversely affect human health and safety other than radioactive, ozone-depleting or infectious substances. The following substances are exempt from the HSNO Act:

  • Hazardous substances that are only being used in an exempt laboratory;
  • Medicine;
  • Infectious substances, UN Class 6;
  • Ozone-depleting substances;
  • Food;
  • Manufactured articles;

It shall be noted that the term "hazardous substances" under the Act is unique in the world. It covers both single-component chemical substances and formulated products. New Zealand's chemical approval system is also quite different from other countries. A new single-component chemical substance that is not hazardous does not require approval.

Approval of Hazardous Substances

There are two types of approvals for hazardous substances manufactured in or imported into New Zealand: individual substance approval and group standard approval. Which type of approval is applicable depends whether a product is a single-component chemical and whether it contains hazardous components.


Individual substance approval
  • Mainly for a new hazardous chemical component that is not listed on New Zealand Inventory of Chemicals (NZIoC) and pesticides;
  • An approval from the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) is required;
Group standard approval
  • For other formulated products and hazardous single-component chemicals;
  • Manufacturers and importers shall carry out their own assessment and assign group standards to their products and comply with control requirements specified by group standards;
  • A record of assignment needs to be kept;

New Zealand Inventory of Chemicals (NZIoC)

The NZIoC is a list of hazardous chemicals allowed as components in products covered under group standard approvals. If a single-component chemical on its own or contained in a formulated product is hazardous and it is not listed on NZIoC, a new chemical notification needs to be submitted to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) for the hazardous component. This process is also called individual substance approval.

Read more about NZIoC...

Group Standard Approval

Group standards are approvals for a group of hazardous substances of a similar nature, type or use. A group standard sets out conditions that enable a group of hazardous substances to be managed safely. Such conditions include specific requirements on labelling, SDS, and packaging etc.

Most domestic and workplace chemicals (except for pesticides, veterinary medicines, timber treatment chemicals and vertebrate toxic agents) are approved under group standards. Most of group standards require hazardous components listed on NZIoC.

Manufacturers and importers carry out their own assessment and assign their product to certain group standards based on the hazards and intended uses of the products. Once a group standard has been found, they need to keep a record why a particular group standard has been assigned.

A guide on how to assign a group standard to a product can be found here. If companies cannot find an appropriate group standard, they can contact EPA for help by making an informal 'Status of Substance' request. A small fee will be charged by EPA.

Reform of HSNO Act

HSNO Act is being amended by a bill called "Health and Safety Reform Bill" in New Zealand. The Bill proposes replacing many of the regulation-making powers in the HSNO Act with powers to make legally binding notices issued by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA Notices). EPA Notices will align their national regulation with GHS Rev. 3.

GHS in New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the earliest countries that have adopted GHS. New Zealand had adopted a GHS based hazard classification framework in 2001 and had been working on an implementation program since that time. Since July 2006, all hazardous substances had been covered by this GHS-based legislative framework.

Read more about GHS in New Zealand.

Reference & Resources

Click here to access all references and resources for New Zealand including the English translation of regulations, regulatory lists and useful links to the websites of competent authorities.

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 Tags: Topics - NZREACH-like Regulation and Registration