by Laura Whiteman
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), over 85% of Australians believe that cosmetics should not be tested on animals. In response to this overwhelming concern, Australia is working on a national approach called the 3Rs, to refine, reduce and replace animal based testing. New cosmetic ingredients manufactured in, or imported into Australia are now not able to prove their safety by using animal testing data. This brings Australia more in line with some of its international trading partners, such as Europe who have also banned the testing of cosmetics on animals. It ensures the ongoing protection of the environment and public health and safety, whilst encouraging information from sources other than animal testing.
The ban officially commenced in July 2020 under the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019, when the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS) officially replaced the previous National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS). An advisory committee called the Animal Test Ban Implementation Advisory Group is overseeing the roll out of the ban, which includes seven different groups:
- Accord Australasia
- Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists
- Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
- Humane Society International
- Office of Chemical Safety (Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme)
- National Health and Medical Research Council
- RSPCA Australia
The Department of Health is working with Accord, the primary body for cosmetics and personal care in Australia, to develop a voluntary industry code, which covers the allowed marketing and promotional claims around animal testing. There is ongoing dialogue between Accord and the RSPCA to ensure that the code will meet the requirements of both the industry and animal welfare. The code has also been reviewed by the rest of the Animal Test Ban Implementation Advisory Group and other stakeholders. The Department of Health recently agreed to extend the timeframe for launch of this Voluntary Industry Code to early in 2021.
As a part of this initiative, the Department of Health is also partnering with the National Retail Association (NRA) and the marketing agency Clemenger BBDO to generate consumer information about the ban. In research undertaken by the NRA, it was shown that most people are not aware of the ban but when made aware are very supportive. The aim is to provide consumers with knowledge of the ban and claims made on products. The intent is to provide education and information on the ban, rather than encourage activism. This consumer information is expected to be available early next year.
Recommended Action Items:
- Review the requirements around animal testing if selling cosmetics in Australia
- Look for alternative methods to animal testing, such as the UL Cheminformatics Toolkit to generate data where appropriate
- Department of Health, Ban on the use of animal test data for cosmetics – https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/ban-cosmetic-testing-animals
- Department of Health, Ban Cosmetic Testing on Animals Implementation Advisory Group – https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/Ban-Cosmetic-Testing-on-Animals-Implementation-Advisory-Group
- NHMRC, Information paper: The implementation of the 3Rs in Australia – https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/information-paper-implementation-3rs-australia
- NHMRC, The 3Rs – https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/research-policy/ethics/animal-ethics/3rs
- RSPCA, Animal testing – https://www.rspca.org.au/take-action/animal-testing
- Animal testing ban
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