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Hazardous Waste in Australia 2021
Amounts of hazardous waste generated in Australia continue to increase each year, faster than other waste, and faster than the rate of population growth. Hazardous waste generation has grown since 2006-07, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 6.3% per year since 2014-15, when the first edition of this report series was published. Asbestos and contaminated soils are major contributors to this growth.
Hazardous waste tracking and data system
The Department commissioned Oakton to conduct work on options for a national electronic tracking and data system for inter- and intra-state movements of hazardous and controlled waste.
Improving Australia’s data on hazardous waste
The Department commissioned national consultation with industry, governments, researchers and non-government organisations on improvements to national data and reporting on waste. This report outlines key proposed changes to the Hazardous Waste in Australia report as well as the National Waste Report.
Hazardous Waste in Australia
Amounts of Hazardous waste arising in Australia continue to increase each year, faster than other waste, and faster than the rate of population growth. Average annual growth in arisings between 2010-2011 and 2014 was 9% per year, with a 34% increase between 2017-2019. This large increase in the growth of waste is due to asbestos and contaminated soils and large flows to storage of coal seam gas waste.
The previous version (2nd edition) of the national standard for hazardous waste provides guidance on how hazardous waste data is handled in national reporting, including recommended approaches to standardised definitions and classifications. The third edition is intended to help alleviate some of the data collation difficulties and also diminish the differences between regulatory systems, reducing costs and providing more certainty for regulators and businesses.
Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989
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 disposed of safely so that human beings and the environment, both within and outside Australia, are protected from the harmful effects of the waste.
- Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989
- International hazardous waste conventions
What we do
The Department of the Environment administers and implements the Act. The Act was developed to enable Australia to comply with specific obligations under the Basel Convention on the Control of the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their disposal, a Convention set up to control the international movements of hazardous wastes.
The main functions performed by the Department in relation to hazardous waste include:
- Processing of export, import and transit permit applications under the Act;
- Ensuring compliance and enforcement with the Act;
- Preparing, implementing and amending legislation relating to the international movements of hazardous waste to, from or through Australia;
- Formulating and implementing policies relating to the international movements of hazardous waste to, from or through Australia;
- Providing administrative assistance to the Hazardous Waste Technical Group which has been established to provide guidance to the Department on hazardous waste management;
- Participating in International forums such as the Basel Convention and OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) which deal with the international movements of hazardous waste; and
- Consulting, preparing and providing information to stakeholders on the Act and the permit process.
The Department of the Environment is the official competent authority for Australia under the Basel Convention and this function is administered by the Hazardous Waste Section.