Regulating chemicals in NSW

A guide to understanding the laws about chemicals, licences, and Chemical Control Orders.

The EPA is responsible for regulating chemical use or disposal in NSW, in partnership with other state government agencies.

Legislation administered by the EPA 

Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) regulates chemical pollution and waste management, and specifies licensing requirements for activities including hazardous waste generation, storage and transport.

From 25 March 2024, the POEO Act is also the primary legislation for regulating environmentally hazardous chemicals throughout their lifecycle. See Streamlining the NSW regulatory framework for managing industrial chemicals.

The POEO Act sets out requirements for:

  • Industrial Chemicals Environmental Management Standard (IChEMS) Register as it applies in NSW to manage the environmental risks of industrial chemicals
  • chemical use notices which require users of a specified chemical to provide information to the EPA about their use of the chemical 
  • chemical control orders (CCOs) which are used to manage specified hazardous chemicals and chemical wastes
  • technology assessments which ensure that premises treating or destroying chemicals are safe and appropriate for their purpose
  • licensing of individuals or industries who manage chemicals.

Other legislation

In addition to the POEO Act, the EPA regulates chemicals under other legislation:

Legislation administered by other agencies

Agricultural and veterinary chemicals legislation

Food, health and work safety legislation

Page last updated