Scheduled waste management

A small percentage of hazardous waste has been regarded for a long time as intractable, or difficult to safely dispose of, without special technologies and facilities. These wastes are known as scheduled wastes. To ensure adequate protection of human health and the environment, Australian governments agreed to implement a national approach to the management of scheduled wastes.

What is scheduled waste?

A formal definition of "scheduled waste" is: a material or article containing a chemical, or mixture of chemicals, exceeding the threshold concentration and threshold quantity (see the relevant specific scheduled waste management plan), which is:

  • organic in nature;
  • resistant to degradation by chemical, physical or biological means;
  • toxic to humans, animals, vegetation or aquatic life;
  • bioaccumulative in humans, flora and fauna; and
  • listed on Schedule X (the agreed list of scheduled wastes).

Schedule X includes Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs).

National Strategy for the Management of Scheduled Waste

The National Strategy was endorsed by Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) in 1993 and provides for the safe management and disposal of scheduled wastes.

National management plans

An important outcome of the National Strategy was the development of the three national plans for Scheduled Waste:

Organochlorine Pesticides (OCPs)

The term organochlorine refers to a wide range of organic chemicals, which contain chlorine and sometimes several other elements. A range of organochlorine compounds have been used in Australia, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and industrial chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

PCBs have the chemical formula C12H10-nCIn where 'n' is 1-10. They are a family of 209 congeners (chemicals with the same basic structure) where the biphenyl structure has chlorine atoms substituted for hydrogen atoms to varying degrees.

Approximately 100 of these congeners are present in various technical mixtures of PCBs that were produced commercially in large quantities until the late 1970s. PCBs have been used in electrical appliances, such as transformers and capacitors, hydraulic fluids, plasticisers and dye carriers. They are also generated and released into the environment as unintentional by-products of chemical manufacturing and incineration.

Hexachlorobenzene (HCB)

Scheduled Wastes Management Network (SWMN)

The SWMN comprised members from the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and the State and Territory environment protection agencies. The primary role of the SWMN is to implement, review and advise EPHC on the National Strategy for the Management of Scheduled Wastes. The members of the SWMN provide an important link between Australian, State and Territory authorities which are responsible for implementing the management plans.

National Advisory Body

The National Advisory Body comprised membership from a range of interested organisations including conservation organisations, local government and industry. The role of the National Advisory Body was to advise EPHC on:

  • the implementation of management plans for each category of scheduled waste;
  • community consultation/education and information programs;
  • monitoring and review of the National Strategy; and
  • any other relevant issue on which EPHC or the SWMN sought advice.

The National Advisory Body was dissolved in 2002.

Farm chemicals


ChemClear? is a chemical waste disposal program for the safe management of unwanted rural chemicals.

For further information contact ChemClear® 

ChemCollect ... cleaning up the farm

ChemCollect was a nationally co ordinated, free collection scheme for the collection and safe disposal of unwanted and de-registered agricultural and veterinary chemicals from farms. These chemicals, particularly the persistent organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), otherwise pose a risk to the environment, human health and markets for our agricultural products. The $27 million program was funded on a 50/50 basis between the Australian Government, States and Northern Territory. Collections were completed in December 2002 and collected over 1,700 tonnes of chemicals.


drumMUSTER is a national industry program for the collection and recycling of empty, cleaned farm chemical containers. Managed by Agsafe, it is a joint initiative of Avcare, the National Farmers Federation, the Veterinary Manufacturers and Distributors Association and the Australian Local Government Association.

For further information drumMUSTER .

In December 2000, the Department of the Environment and Heritage conducted a review of drumMUSTER's implementation.

More scheduled waste management publications