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Publications archive - Hazardous waste

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

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Hazardous Waste Technical Group — 62nd meeting

Friday 29 August 2003
Boardroom, Fuji Xerox Australia Eco-manufacturing Centre
114 Joynton Ave, ZETLAND NSW 2017

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Minutes

Present:

Chair

Professor Paul Greenfield

Members

Dr Robyn Eckersley
Dr Peter Di Marco
Mr Stephen Moore
Dr Neill Stacey
Dr Jenny Stauber
Dr Peter Scaife

Observer

Dr Peter Brotherton

Secretariat

Mr Robert Angel
Dr Geoff Thompson
Dr Greg Rippon

Apologies

Mr John Hogan
Ms Diane Kovacs
Dr Peter Nadebaum

Agenda Item 1. Draft Minutes of the 61st meeting

1. The meeting amended paragraphs 10, 14, 19 and 24 of the draft Minutes of the 61st meeting, and adopted the Minutes as amended.

Agenda Item 2. Matters arising

2. As requested at the 61st meeting, members were given a set of written instructions on how to make claims for payment.

3. Members again discussed the question of replacing Paul Brown and several names were put forward.

Agenda Item 3. Progress report on operation of the Hazardous Waste Act

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

4. The meeting noted the agenda paper.

(b) Possible amendment to the Act

5. The Group noted the agenda paper and the Department's desire to achieve greater internal consistency in the operation of its various legislative instruments and advisory bodies. The agenda paper gave the Group some idea of how the Hazardous Waste Act might be amended based on the EPBC Act. The proposition did not imply any concern about the current operation of the Technical Group.

Agenda Item 4. Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

(a) Possible import of POPs wastes

6. There was no discussion of the two press items relating to this agenda item: (i) "Toxic waste project approved" from the Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 4 August 2003, and (ii) "Australia takes toxic waste from Pacific Island neighbours" on The World Today (Radio National, ABC Radio), Tuesday, 5 August 2003.

(b) Possible export of ChemCollect wastes

7. There was no discussion of this item.

(c) Presentation by Regain Services Pty Ltd

8. Kevin and Bernie Cooper from Regain Services Pty Ltd gave a presentation to the Group titled "Update on the transformation of aluminium smelter mineral by-products to valuable mineral products".

9. Regain stated that they had received support from both Tomago Aluminium and Hydro Aluminium Kurri Kurri for the development of the technology for treating SPL and that Tomago Aluminium had provided a site for treatment trials.

10. The Group agreed that a subcommittee consisting of Paul Greenfield, Peter Scaife and Stephen Moore, supported by the Secretariat, should visit the facility at Tomago to discuss outstanding issues with Regain and Tomago Aluminium. The NSW EPA would also be invited to attend.

(d) Application to export used lead-acid batteries to New Zealand: Statement of Decision to grant a permit

11. The Group noted the agenda paper.

(e) Application to export lead solder dross to Belgium: draft Statement of Decision

12. The Group considered the information in the agenda paper with regard to Australia's international obligations. The obligation under Article 4.2(d) of the Basel Convention was particularly relevant, to: "Ensure that the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and other wastes is reduced to the minimum consistent with the environmentally sound and efficient management of such wastes". The Group was satisfied that dealing with the waste in Australia would be consistent with the environmentally sound management of the waste.

13. Members noted, however, that the question of efficiency was more difficult to judge because of the absence of any definition of "efficiency" in the Act and the Convention. Nevertheless, the Group was concerned about the way that the word "efficient" was used by the applicant, and the lack of any direct claim that disposal of the waste in Australia would not be consistent with the efficient management of the waste.

14. The Group noted that the domestic processor had said that they would be able to compete on price. Given that no more than 60 tonnes of dross were involved, refusing an export permit was unlikely to have any real effect on the competitive nature of the company. In any event, the applicant could apply for another permit if there were evidence of uncompetitive pricing practices.

15. The Group was very concerned that a decision to grant the permit had the potential to circumvent the obligation under Article 4.2(d) to the extent that it would no longer be implemented in relation to some proposed exports, solely on the grounds that the applicant claimed to be able to obtain a higher price from an overseas disposal facility.

(f) Application to export printed circuit boards containing lead to Singapore

16. The Group agreed that the applicant must provide detailed answers to all eight questions in DEH's Information Paper No. 6 "Assessment of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste destined for recovery operations in non-OECD countries". The responses should include:

  1. Documentation for the Singapore facility that relates to its ISO 14000 accreditation;
  2. Documentation related to the licensing of the facility, including any reports generated as a requirement of the licensing;
  3. A flow-sheet which shows the mass-balance of all inputs and outputs, concentrating on any waste streams that are generated;
  4. Information that allows the scale of the operation to be understood; and
  5. Documentation from a an environmental performance audit by an independent auditor acceptable to DEH. Such an audit could also collect and present the information in (i) to (iv) above.

(g) Evidentiary certificate on zinc sulphate

17. The meeting noted that the analysis for cadmium in the zinc sulphate imported into Australia showed levels of around 120,000 mg/kg. Those members present at the meeting, having considered the analysis of the material in question, and the opinions offered by three independent experts in the field of extractive metallurgy on the probable origin of the material, recommended that the Minister issue a written certificate in accordance with Section 58B(1), stating that: "The shipment of zinc sulphate containing >0.1% cadmium (weight for weight) is a hazardous waste as defined in Article 1, paragraph 1(a) of the Basel Convention because it is a waste having as constituents cadmium and cadmium compounds, and possesses hazardous characteristics contained in Annex III. The material has been produced by using a zinc feed such as a flue or baghouse dust, or cadmium cementate. Leaching a lead smelter baghouse dust with sulphuric acid prior to crystallisation would explain the presence of all elements and their approximate levels of assay. The high cadmium level is particularly diagnostic of this type of material, which is often recycled to recover its lead content prior to disposal."

(h) Concentration cut-off levels for tellurium

18. Jenny Stauber had provided ecotoxicity data for tellurium and this would be compared with ecotoxicity data for selenium. If they were similar, it was proposed that the regulatory levels for selenium also be used for tellurium.

(i) Presentation on the Fuji Xerox Thailand project

19. Ramsay Moody, Director Corporate Affairs of Fuji Xerox Australia Pty Ltd, and Tomio Watanabe, General Manager of Fuji Xerox Asia Pty Ltd, gave a presentation on Fuji Xerox's proposed "Integrated recycling system" for photocopiers, to be based in Thailand. Fuji Xerox was committed to achieving zero waste to landfill and aimed, through extended producer responsibility, to close the loop between production and disposal operations. To achieve this, Fuji Xerox proposed to establish an "eco manufacturing" facility at the Chonburi Industrial Estate in Thailand. Fuji Xerox saw the supply of photocopier hulks from Australia as crucial to achieving economies of scale not otherwise available. While a facility in Thailand might erode some of the recycling currently performed at the Fuji Xerox Eco-manufacturing facility in Zetland, this facility was not able to process photocopier hulks and deal with all waste streams arising, such as printed circuit boards and lenses.

20. The Thai facility would be modelled on the facility operated by Fuji Xerox in Japan, and would operate to the same standards. The Japanese facility was able to thoroughly separate and properly treat hazardous components. The facility in Thailand was yet to be built, and was currently undergoing an environmental assessment by the Thai authorities. These eco-manufacturing sites would aim to recycle component parts for re-use in production, or for recycling for material or energy recovery, with only 0.2% of the material going to landfill.

21. The Group discussed how Fuji Xerox might be able to reasonably demonstrate that a facility in Thailand, which was not yet built, would operate in an environmentally sound manner. Notwithstanding the information requirements set out in DEH's Information Paper No. 6 "Assessment of environmentally sound management of hazardous waste destined for recovery operations in non-OECD countries", the Group came to the following conclusions:

  1. Fuji Xerox should develop documentation on the Japanese facility to demonstrate how it operates in an environmentally sound manner;
  2. This documentation should then be compared to that for the proposed facility in Thailand to identify what parts of the Thai operation were not similar to the Japanese operation;
  3. Fuji Xerox should then demonstrate, for those hazardous materials to be processed in Thailand, how the proposed operation would be performed in an environmentally sound manner, and what safeguards would be in place to ensure that this happened in practice;
  4. The above documentation could be prepared, or at least verified, by an external auditor; and
  5. The Group would expect another audit after 12 months of operation to verify the results of the initial audit, and help in the assessment of any further applications for a permit.

22. The Group also noted that the proposal raised larger policy issues about the interaction between extended producer responsibility and the Basel Convention, particularly when the producer operated globally and aimed to establish economies of scale. It also raised questions about the meaning of economic efficiency and the way in which it should be considered.

Agenda Item 5. Reports of international meetings

(a) Basel Convention: Second Session of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG2), Geneva, 20-24 October 2003

Agenda Item 6. Work Program of the Technical Group

23. There was no discussion of items 5 and 6.

Agenda Item 7. Criteria for separating hazardous from non-hazardous wastes

  1. Hazard Status of Waste Electrical and Electronic Assemblies or Scrap, Second Edition
  2. OECD Technical Guidance for the Environmentally Sound Management of Specific Waste Streams: Used and Scrap Personal Computers
  3. Suspected illegal export of electronic scrap to the Philippines, 17 July 2002: Inspection Report
  4. Suspected illegal export of electronic scrap to the Philippines, July 2003: Inspection Report
  5. Export of plastic scrap, containing flame retardants, from old electrical and electronic equipment
  6. Presentation on exports of monitors

24. Items 7(a)-(e) were considered together. An industry representative gave a presentation on the export of monitors to SE Asia. He considered that there was little, if any, export market for small monitors (14" and 15"), with most demand being for the larger monitors (19" to 21") and then moving into LCD monitors at the higher end of the market. He also knew of operations in SE Asia, which exploited cheap labour to clean up old machines to look like new. These goods were then exported, in new packaging, to other countries in the SE Asian region and sold as new. He stressed that what we saw as rubbish might be quite valuable to someone overseas, particularly in some of the poorer countries.

25. The Group briefly discussed issues arising from how used electronic equipment might be classified as hazardous waste. They recognised that the criteria currently agreed required greater clarity to allow better enforcement. Nevertheless, it was likely that the best approach would still require consideration of several factors and then a judgement made. Such factors could include the degree and state of packaging, the age and condition of the material, the degree of repair needed, if any, and the value and market demand for the material.

Agenda Item 8. Criteria for separating wastes from non-wastes

Agenda Item 9. Defining environmentally sound management

Agenda Item 10. Regional Centres

Agenda Item 11. Avoidance, minimisation and treatment of hazardous wastes

Agenda Item 12. Other business

26. There was no discussion of items 8 to 12.

Agenda Item 13. Dates of next meetings

(a) Friday 21 November 2003

(b) Friday 13 February 2004