About the Act
The main purpose of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 (‘the Act’) is to regulate the export, import and transit of hazardous waste to ensure that hazardous waste is dealt with appropriately so that human beings and the environment, both within and outside Australia, are protected from the harmful effects of the waste.
The original Act of 1989 only controlled movements of wastes that lacked financial value, usually destined for final disposal operations (for example, by incineration or landfill). In 1996, the Act was amended to include wastes that possess financial value, usually destined for recycling and recovery operations. These amendments enabled Australia to meet all of its obligations under the Basel Convention.
- Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989
- Regulations and evidentiary certificates
You need to know about the Act if:
- you are a waste broker, agent or dealer;
- you plan to move hazardous waste in and out of Australia;
- you produce hazardous waste which will be exported; or
- you import hazardous waste for recovery or final disposal.
The Act requires that a permit be obtained before hazardous waste is exported from Australia or imported into Australia.
Basic requirements of the Act
1. Is your material a waste?
Only hazardous wastes are covered by the Act. It is sometimes not clear whether a material is a waste or not a waste, so please contact us to seek further guidance and discuss.
2. Is your waste hazardous?
A waste is hazardous for the purposes of the Act if it is listed as hazardous in the Basel Convention or in the OECD Regulations. Please contact us to seek further guidance and discuss.
3. Is your waste intended for final disposal or recovery?
Final disposal of waste involves operations such as incineration or landfill. The Australian Government has banned exports of waste for final disposal except in exceptional circumstances. Recovery includes recycling or reclamation of waste materials and also includes recovery of energy from waste (except by direct incineration). These shipments are permitted provided certain conditions are met. Please contact us to seek further guidance and discuss
4. Where is the waste coming from or going to?
Waste shipments may only take place between countries which are Parties to the Basel Convention, except where a specific arrangement exists with a non-Party under Article 11 of the Basel Convention. An Article 11 arrangement is implemented in Australia through a particular set of Regulations. There are two sets of these Regulations:
- The OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Decision Regulations which control all movements for recovery operations within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) area; and
- The Waigani Convention Regulations covers countries in the South Pacific region.
Lists of OECD countries, and countries which are party to the Basel Convention and countries which are party to the Waigani Convention can be found on the following web sites:
The Act does not affect movements of hazardous waste within Australia. You should contact your State or Territory Environment Department for further information on internal movements.
Changes made to the Act
The Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Amendment Bill and Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Levy Bill received royal assent on 22 February 2017. This is an important step in modernising the hazardous waste permitting scheme.
The amendments will improve the regulation of hazardous waste movements by removing duplicative and unnecessary permit processes. This will reduce delays and costs to business and Government while maintaining Australia’s high standards of human and environmental protection from hazardous waste.
The amendments will also allow the Department to recover more of its costs of administering the permitting scheme under the Act from those who use the service.
The reforms aimed at simplifying the hazardous waste permitting process commenced on 23 February 2017, while the cost recovery reforms will commence on 1 July 2017.
The Amendment Bill made administrative improvements to the Hazardous Waste Act, including:
- Allowing the Minister to delegate non-controversial decisions on routine permit applications to Executive Level 2 employees;
- Allowing for the publication of hazardous waste permit application and decision notices on the Department’s website, rather than the Government Gazette;
- Allowing for some OECD transits of hazardous waste through Australia to not require an Australian transit permit;
- Removing the requirement that a regulation be made or amended before approving a Basel export for final disposal (the Department will instead publish the information on this website);
- Removing the requirement to specify the place of export from permit documents; and
- Repealing the Schedule to the Act to remove the full text of the Basel Convention.
The Amendment and Levy Bill will make changes to the cost recovery arrangements under the Act, including:
- Removing the current $8000 cap on application fees;
- Increasing the fees on 1 July 2017;
- Introducing a levy on all permit applications from 1 July 2017; and
- Introducing annual indexation on both the application fees and the levy according to the CPI, from 1July 2018.
You can find details of the amendments in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Amendment Bill 2016 and Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Levy Bill 2016.
If you would like more information on how the changes to the Act might affect your existing or future permit application, please go to Applying for a permit and Permit application fees or contact us to discuss.
Information about the implementation of the Act is available in the departmental annual report.