Methyl bromide

Uses of methyl bromide

Methyl bromide is an ozone depleting substance (ODS). It is used in Australia as a fast acting fumigant in a wide range of situations:

  • as a Quarantine and Pre-Shipment (QPS) treatment for imports and exports of certain commodities internationally and certain commodities transported interstate (2014  was >450 tonnes)
  • for non-Quarantine and Pre-Shipment (non-QPS) purposes that have been approved under critical use exemptions (current use is <30 tonnes per annum), for soil fumigation in the production of strawberry runners and as a feedstock in chemical reactions to create other chemicals (current use is <1 tonne per annum)
  • Further information on using methyl bromide in Australia

Phase out and control of methyl bromide in Australia

Since 1 January 2005, all uses of methyl bromide, other than for certified Quarantine and Pre-Shipment, approved feedstock applications, or approved under critical use exemptions, have been prohibited in Australia under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 (the Act).

The Act implements Australia’s obligations as a Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (the Montreal Protocol). Under the Montreal Protocol, Quarantine and Pre-Shipment and feedstock uses are not subject to phase-down, while non-Quarantine and Pre-Shipment uses (i.e. those uses that do not fall within the definition of Quarantine and Pre-Shipment or the definition of feedstock) have been phased out, apart from a small number of exempted critical uses.

Methyl bromide is a highly effective fumigant used to protect the biosecurity interests of Australia and other nations across the world. Further information on the use of methyl bromide for imports to and exports from Australia can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website:

Under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, methyl bromide can only be used for a non-Quarantine and Pre-Shipment application if a critical use exemption has been approved by the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.

The National Critical Use Strategy was developed in 2005 and updated in 2011 and 2014 to provide strategic guidance for the phase out of methyl bromide for non-Quarantine and Pre-Shipment uses.

The Department of the Environment is closely monitoring international trends in relation to the control of Quarantine and Pre-Shipment use of methyl bromide. If you are an industry stakeholder or other interested party that would like to be part of this process, please contact us.

An important aspect of reducing methyl bromide use in Australia is to identify alternatives that are both technically and economically feasible. The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is able to provide information on alternative treatments to methyl bromide fumigation as appropriate.

Compulsory record keeping and reporting requirements for buyers, sellers and all end users of methyl bromide, are established under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995. Anyone selling or using methyl bromide must be aware of their obligations under these Regulations. Further information on the specific provisions of the Regulations can be obtained by contacting the Department of the Environment.

Methyl bromide suppliers can be required on request by the Department of the Environment to present to present any records relating to the sale or use of methyl bromide. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in penalties, and will be taken into consideration when considering future licence and permit applications.

Import and export of methyl bromide

The manufacture, import and export of methyl bromide is controlled under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 and associated Regulations. A valid Controlled Substances Licence must be held by anyone intending to manufacture, import or export methyl bromide. There is currently no manufacture of methyl bromide in Australia. Applicants for a Controlled Substances Licence must pay a non-refundable application fee. Licences are granted for a maximum two-year period. All licences have a common expiry date, currently 31 December 2015.

The licences set limits on the amount of methyl bromide the licence holder is permitted to import and/or export each year, by type of methyl bromide use (i.e. Quarantine and Pre-Shipment, non-Quarantine and Pre-Shipment, or feedstock). The licences also specify certain conditions which the licence holder must comply with. These include the provision of quarterly reports and payment of a levy on all imported methyl bromide.

Contact details

For further information about your obligations under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations, to receive hard copies of any of the forms, or to discuss any methyl bromide issue, please contact:

Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas International Team
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: +61 2 6274 1373
Fax: +61 2 6274 2849