International conventions and agreements govern how hazardous waste is managed between countries. Australia must meet our requirements under these agreements.
These conventions are implemented through the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989.
The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is a global control system for importing and exporting hazardous waste.
- improves how hazardous waste is managed
- helps prevent harmful impacts to the environment and human health.
Australia ratified the Basel Convention in 1992. Participating countries must:
- minimise their generation of hazardous waste
- ensure adequate disposal facilities are available
- control and reduce international movements of hazardous waste
- ensure environmentally sound management of wastes
- prevent and respond to illegal traffic.
The Basel Convention allows its Parties to enter into subsidiary agreements with other countries. These agreements must have the same level of environmental protection intended by the Convention. Australia has several of these agreements that are described below.
A country cannot allow the export of hazardous waste without:
- consent from the importing country and all transit countries
- verifying appropriate controls to prevent harm to the environment and human health during transport, disposal and/or recovery.
Visit the Basel Convention website.
The Waigani Convention
The Convention to Ban the Importation into Forum Island Countries of Hazardous and Radioactive Wastes and to Control the Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within the South Pacific Region (Waigani Convention) entered into force 21 October 2001.
Import ban and waste management
The Waigani Convention:
- bans the import of all hazardous and radioactive wastes into South Pacific Islands Forum countries that have agreed to the Waigani Convention
- allows Australia to receive hazardous wastes exported from Pacific Islands Forum countries that have agreed to the Waigani Convention,
- Australia ratified the Waigani Convention in 1998.
Visit the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) website.
Australia has an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. It allows the export of hazardous waste from Timor-Leste to Australia.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Control System
The OECD Control System for waste recovery sets out controls for moving hazardous waste between OECD countries. The controls only relate to shipments of waste going to a recovery operation.
Read the OECD Control System for waste recovery.