A:What’s in it?’ is a voluntary ingredient disclosure initiative developed by Accord for household cleaning products sold on the Australian market.

What’s in it?’ mirrors the schemes introduced by the industry in North America (Canada and the USA).

A: Accord is the national association for the hygiene, cosmetic and specialty products industry.

As the Australian industry representative body, Accord’s membership includes market leaders, both nationally and globally, in household cleaning products.

These leading companies have proactively and voluntarily developed and supported an Accord initiative which will provide ingredient information to Australian consumers.

A: Product ingredient disclosure is important for aiding consumer choice.

The ‘What’s in it?’ Initiative helps Australians make more informed choices about the products they use in their households

A:What’s in it?‘ covers the following major categories of household cleaning products:

  • Household cleaners – soaps, detergents and other formulated consumer products designed for household hygiene, including hard surface cleaners and dishwashing detergents
  • Laundry products – formulated consumer products designed for fabric cleaning and care
  • Household (floor) maintenance products – polishes, waxes and restorers designed to polish, protect or maintain floors, furniture, metal, leather, upholstery or other household surfaces
  • Air-care products – formulated consumer products designed to enhance or condition the indoor (or automotive) environment by removing unpleasant odours
  • Automotive cleaners – formulated consumer products designed to maintain the external appearance and interior comfort of motor vehicles
A: Other products are not included in ‘What’s in it?’ because they are:

  1. already subject to some form of ingredient disclosure; and/or,
  2. outside Accord’s representative scope

For instance, personal hygiene products (including cosmetics, fragrances and toiletries) are already covered by ingredient disclosure requirements specified by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Household pesticides are subject to extensive regulation, with label directions and ingredient disclosure specified by the responsible regulatory, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Additionally, commercial cleaning products which are sold business-to-business are subject to Safety Data Sheet (SDS) requirements.

Many products used for household renovation, such as paints and adhesives, are also subject to SDS requirements as they are also used commercially by the building and maintenance trades. Accord also does not represent the paint or surface coating industry.

All formulated products used by the public are subject to poisons scheduling regulation via the Federal Health Department’s Advisory Committee on Chemicals Scheduling (ACCS – formerly the National Drugs & Poisons Schedule Committee NDPSC) and state poisons laws. This means that products containing specified ingredients assessed as having higher risk potential require special warning labels plus declaration on the label of the ‘scheduled’ ingredient(s).

A: The ‘What’s in it?’ ingredient disclosure rules ensure comprehensive and detailed ingredient disclosure.

All intentionally added ingredients present at greater than one percent (1%) will be listed in descending order of predominance. (This approach mirrors ingredient disclosure for foods and cosmetics.)

All intentionally added ingredients present at less than one percent (1%) will be listed in any order, AFTER the listing of all intentionally added ingredients at greater than 1%.

A: Intentionally added ingredients are all the constituents of a chemically formulated consumer product with the exception of incidental ingredients that have no technical or functional effect in the product.

Incidental ingredients may be present in the product at very low levels, and include:

  • Substances incidentally incorporated into the product as an ingredient of another product ingredient
  • Substances used during manufacture as processing aids
A: Ingredients will be named by any of the following recognised naming schemes:

  • INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients)
  • IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry)
  • CAS (Chemical Abstract Service)
  • Common chemical name

Where there is a need for protection of confidential business information (CBI), for example the presence of a proprietary ingredient, this ingredient may be listed by chemical function and/or chemical class.

Participating companies will not be required to disclose information claimed as CBI under existing laws or via private contractual agreements, for example the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 Section 75 – Confidentiality. Intellectual property protection laws recognise that some formulation information is commercially sensitive and – just like the full recipe for Coca-Cola – if revealed would damage the business.

A: Ingredient names will be communicated through any of the following methods (as consistent with the North American initiatives):

  • Company or brand website
  • Product label
  • Other electronic or non-electronic means – providing flexibility and allowing for potential new technologies of the future
A: No.

While ‘What’s in it?’ has been developed by Accord member companies, it has been recognised that wide adoption of the initiative will enhance its benefits for Australian consumers.

For this reason, Accord has written to and followed up with a large number of non-member companies inviting them to participate in ‘What’s in it?’. Accord membership is not a prerequisite for participation.

A: The following companies have commenced ingredient disclosure as of 1 July 2011:

Accord member companies:

  • Amway
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Helios Health and Beauty
  • Kao Australia
  • PZ Cussons
  • Reckitt Benckiser
  • Unilever

Non-member companies:

  • Aware Environmental

All of the above companies committed to participation in ‘What’s in it?’ in advance of the April 2010 ‘What’s in it?’ launch, via a signed ‘Agreement to Participate’.

A: Yes.

Participation in ‘What’s in it?’ remains open for any company supplying household cleaning products into the Australian market.

It is Accord’s hope that other companies will follow the lead set by the initial nine participating companies.

A: No.

There is no joining or administration fee associated with ‘What’s in it?’.

Participating companies will, however, incur costs associated with complying with the ‘What’s in it?’ ingredient disclosure rules and establishing their own company framework/IT system for ingredient disclosure for their household cleaning products.

A: The initiative is voluntary because, according to anti-competitive provisions in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, Accord would be prohibited from unilaterally mandating an initiative like this.
A: No.

The voluntary ‘What’s in it?’ initiative is aimed entirely at improving consumer access to information about ingredients in household cleaning products.

Through Accord, leading companies in household cleaning products have proactively introduced the ‘What’s in it?’ Initiative so that Australian consumers will have the same access to ingredient information as consumers now do in Canada and the USA.

Household cleaning products on the Australian market are regulated for safety via a number of independent, expert Australian Government regulatory regimes.

All ingredients in household cleaning products are regulated for public health and environmental safety by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification & Assessment Scheme (NICNAS). For more information see:  http://www.nicnas.gov.au

Ingredients in products used in homes and/or by the public are also subject to scrutiny regarding public safety by the Advisory Committee on Chemicals Scheduling (ACCS – formerly the national Drugs & Poisons Schedule Committee NDPSC). For more information see:


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also has strong powers to ensure and enforce the safety of all consumer products. For more information see:


Accord member companies supplying household cleaning products into the Australian market are also strongly committed to the safety and quality of their products.

Household cleaning products are safe when used in accordance with label directions and play an important role in achieving the clean and hygienic environment essential for healthy living.