What is hazardous waste?

The Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989, which covers hazardous waste only, defines hazardous waste as:

  • Waste prescribed by the regulations, where the waste has any of the characteristics mentioned in Annex III to the Basel Convention. These characteristics include:
    • Explosive
    • Flammable Liquids/Solids
    • Poisonous
    • Toxic
    • Ecotoxic
    • Infectious Substances.
  • Wastes that belong to any category contained in Annex I to the Basel Convention , unless they do not possess any of the hazardous characteristics contained in Annex III. Wastes in Annex I include:
    • Clinical wastes;
    • Waste oils/water, hydrocarbons/water mixtures, emulsions;
    • Wastes from the production, formulation and use of resins, latex, plasticizers, glues/adhesives;
    • Wastes resulting from surface treatment of metals and plastics;
    • Residues arising from industrial waste disposal operations; and
    • Wastes which contain certain compounds such as: copper, zinc, cadmium, mercury, lead and asbestos.
  • Household waste; or
  • Residues arising from the incineration of household waste.

Copies of Annex 1 and Annex III to the Basel Convention can be found in the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989.

Evidentiary certificates

For some materials, their status as a hazardous waste is not obvious. Under the Act, the Minister may issue an evidentiary certificate stating that a specified substance is, or is not, a hazardous waste. Before issuing such a certificate, the Minister must seek expert advice from the Hazardous Waste Technical Group.

To date, evidentiary certificates have been made for: