The Australian government recently announced plans to "cut red tape" after calls from the product packaging industry to reduce regulations.

As part of the process, it has invited public submissions on a paper looking at different options for how national trade measurement regulations should be amended. Currently, the regulations stipulate that a product's exact volume or weight must be marked on the front of its packaging.

"Businesses have told us that the current regulations are too prescriptive."

Where should measurement markings on packaging go?

The objective of the public consultation, which ends at the end of June 2017, is to obtain feedback on various options for reform, including whether or not the measurement markings should be allowed anywhere on the product.

Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Craig Laundy invited Australians to have their say on the options paper released today.

"Businesses have told us that the current regulations are too prescriptive and need to be reviewed, and that's what we are doing," Mr Laundy said.

"By exploring ways to make it easier for business to operate, while maintaining the checks and balances that the public expect from government, we can start to make a real difference. We also know that consumers want safeguards in place to ensure they are getting value for money. This review is a detailed, transparent process to plot the best path forward for both industry and consumers."

How any changes in these regulations will align with other Australian labelling frameworks will also be investigated.

Trade measurement laws are designed to help both consumers and businesses when purchasing products.Trade measurement laws are designed to help both consumers and businesses when purchasing products.

How compliant is Australian industry with existing laws?

Millions of goods are traded every day across Australia, and consumers and businesses rely on correct volume or weight measurements to ensure they are getting what they pay for.

The National Measurement Institute (NMI) monitors the compliance of Australian businesses with national measurement law. As well as providing advice and assistance to help businesses meet their obligations, the NMI also conducts inspections on product measurement accuracy and labelling, while also enforcing the law when required.

NMI inspectors visited over 10,000 businesses in 2015 to 2016, where they tested more than 15,000 measuring instruments, inspected over 80,000 packaged good production lines, and more than 300,000 individual packages. 

Overall, 66 per cent of the businesses were found to be fully compliant upon inspection – up from 60 per cent in 2014 to 2015. For the one-third showing some kind of breach, the majority were able and willing to meet their obligations after a warning. Only 15 per cent of those who were found to be breaching the regulations at an initial audit remained non-compliant in follow-up visits.

Irrespective of any law changes, measurements will still need to be accurate.

Accuracy of measuring equipment is key

Maintaining compliance with Australian trade measurement regulations is not only important to avoid penalties but it will also keep your customers happy. Irrespective of any law changes, measurements will still need to be accurate. That means ensuring that your measuring equipment is accurate and reliable.

SRO Technology offers a site auditing service involving a complete assessment of your workplace and processes to implement tangible improvements for your operation. Our trained specialists will come to your facility and identify instruments not working accurately. They will then provide recommendations with respect to which devices need to be recalibrated, repaired or replaced. T

We have offices in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney and our consultants can reach anywhere in Australia. For more information about how we can help improve your trade measurement law compliance, please get in touch with the team at SRO Technology today.