Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996

This page provides information about the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 and regulations under this Act.

Read the Act

What the Act does

The purpose of this Act is to protect the environment, and the health and safety of people and communities, by preventing or managing the adverse effects of hazardous substances and new organisms.

The passing of New Zealand’s Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act (HSNO Act) in June 1996 represented one of the most significant reforms of environmental legislation since the Resource Management Act. The Act came into force in two stages. Provisions relating to new organisms took effect in July 1998 and the provisions relating to hazardous substances came into force on 2 July 2001.

The Act established the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA New Zealand) to assess and decide on applications to introduce hazardous substances or new organisms into New Zealand. This includes genetic modification of plants, animals and other living things in New Zealand. In July 2011, ERMA became the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). For more information visit the EPA website.

In 2003, the laws governing new organisms, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were amended in line with the Government’s overall policy of proceeding with caution with genetic modification while preserving opportunities. These laws came into force on 30 October 2003.

Regulations under this Act

There are 22 regulations under this Act covering a broad scope of controls including fireworks and other explosive controls, and the management, disposal, classification, packaging and transport of hazardous substances and new organisms.

Please note: A number of these regulations were revoked on 1 December 2017. Some parts of the revoked regulations still apply to HSNO approvals approved before 1 December 2017 and will continue to apply until those approvals have been legally re-issued. However on 1 December 2017 some parts of these HSNO regulations (workplaces controls to protect people) were replaced by the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2017. As such, people do not need to comply with any HSNO controls that have been replaced by the new Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations - they need to comply with the Health and Safety at Work (Hazardous Substances) Regulations instead immediately.

For compliance requirements for substances approved after 1 December 2017 and substances managed under a group standard see When do I need to comply [PDF, 11.03 KB] on the EPA website.