Voluntary Industry Code of Practice to Support the Australian Ban on Testing Cosmetics on Animals

The 2-year consultation and review of the Voluntary Industry Code of Practice is currently underway. Click here for more information.

The Australian Government introduced laws to ban the use of data or information from animal tests conducted from 1 July 2020 for cosmetics.

This Voluntary Industry Code of Practice to Support the Australian Ban on Testing Cosmetics on Animals aims to guide consistency and provide clarity regarding not tested on animals terms and advertising claims used by the Cosmetics Industry.

Through the work of Accord, this Code was developed for the Australian Cosmetics Industry in consultation with the Australian Department of Health and other key stakeholders, including animal welfare groups like RSPCA Australia.

This Code fulfils the Australian Government’s Budget commitment to ‘…work with the cosmetics industry, in consultation with key animal welfare stakeholders, to develop a voluntary code of practice on the sale of cosmetics after the introduction of the ban‘ with a focus on ‘…promotional claims that can and cannot be made on cosmetic products in relation to the ban.

(Accord expressly acknowledges the legal expertise and plain English drafting skills of HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, who undertook the primary research and drafting tasks for this project.)

Code operation and how it can help both industry and consumers

Like many other industry codes, this Code is voluntary. It is a best practice guide for businesses in the Cosmetics Industry in relation to using not tested on animals advertising claims.

Businesses that observe this Code can more accurately and transparently promote their cosmetics and help customers make informed choices.

The Code also helps inform consumers about the Australian ban on the use of animal test data and provides greater clarity around not tested on animals advertising claims.

Information and contents within the Code

Businesses making or supplying cosmetics for sale in Australia are encouraged to read and follow this Code.

Interested consumers are also encouraged to read the Code to enhance their understanding.

The various subsections of the Code are presented in a question/answer format to aid understanding.

The Code contents are laid out as follows:

  • Section 1 – Purpose of this Code
  • Section 2 – Dictionary (defines key terms/concepts)
  • Section 3 – Background to the Ban
  • Section 4 – Commencement and Application of this Code
  • Section 5 – Guidelines for Advertising Claims (the core of the Code)
  • Section 6 – Failure to Observe this Code
  • Section 7 – Administration of this Code
  • Section 8 – Important notice (legal disclaimer)
  • Schedules – Contain information on the operation of the ban via the Industrial Chemicals Act 2019.

Important points to note about the Code

As noted already, the Code is voluntary, not legally binding. It provides important guidance and for this reason businesses using animal testing claims are encouraged to promote their commitment to the Code.

The Code does not apply to businesses outside of the Cosmetics Industry or to advertising for other products like therapeutic goods.

Additionally, the guidance provided in the Code is derived from the regulatory rules, administration and case law experience of two pieces of legislation that apply only in Australia:

  1. The Industrial Chemicals Act 2019, administered by AICIS (the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme).
  2. Australian Consumer Law, as outlined in Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), and administered by the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).

This Code therefore cannot and does not provide any guidance outside of the Australian context.

The legal frameworks within which this Code sits are complex. Businesses are reminded that this Code does not provide definitive statements of the law and does not provide comprehensive information on particular issues or to particular businesses and is not a substitute for legal advice. As a result, there may be exceptions or important qualifications to information provided in this Code.

For these reasons, it is strongly recommended that businesses obtain their own legal and regulatory compliance advice in relation to any advertising claims they may seek to make.

Explanatory videos on the Code’s purpose and use

Useful Links

Media Release on the Code from the Hon Mark Coulton MP and the Hon Jason Wood MP
Download a copy of the Code

For more information on the Australian animal test ban:

Contact Accord about the Code: animaltestcode@accord.asn.au

If you believe a cosmetic is inaccurately claiming not to have been tested on animals, first contact the relevant company.