The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer requires a phase out of methyl bromide for applications other than quarantine and pre-shipment purposes by January 2005.
Methyl bromide is a chemical used to fumigate soil before planting and for post-harvest treatment and structural fumigation. It is extremely effective but is also recognised as an ozone-depleting substance.
From 1 January 2005 all uses of methyl bromide, other than for quarantine and pre-shipment (QPS) or feedstock applications, were prohibited in Australia. However, some 'critical use exemptions' have been allowed by the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Methyl bromide is used as a fumigant to treat goods for QPS purposes if there is a risk they contain a quarantine pest. It is used to treat a variety of quarantine pests including insects, spiders, mites, snails and rodents. Treated goods may include – but are not limited to – wooden products, household items or flowers.
Critical use exemptions can be granted to sectors where there are no technically or economically feasible alternatives to methyl bromide. More information on the phase out of methyl bromide, QPS fumigations and critical use exemptions is available on the Australian Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water website.
The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) is the lead Commonwealth agency coordinating the phase out within Australia. The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry liaises with DCCEEW in implementing Australia's obligations relating to the use of methyl bromide under the Montreal Protocol.
More information about Australia’s participation in the Montreal Protocol can be found on the Department of the Environment website.