The importation of hazardous waste is regulated under the
Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 (the Act). The Department of Environment and Energy is responsible for the implementation and administration of the Act, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection enforces the controls at the border.
Permission to import, export or transit hazardous waste must be granted in writing, through the issuing of a valid permit by the Minister for the Environment and Energy prior to shipping.
Hazardous waste that arrives at the Australian border without a valid permit may be seized and the importer or exporter may be prosecuted.
Under the Act, and as defined by Annex III of the Basel Convention, hazardous waste characteristics include waste that are:
- ecotoxic, or
- infectious substances.
Waste that has one or more characteristics defined under the Basel Convention and is captured in at least one of the following categories, as listed in Annex I of the Basel Convention is considered as hazardous waste. Waste categories under the Basel Convention include:
- clinical wastes
- waste oils/water
- waste from resins, latex, plasticizers or glues/adhesives
- waste from surface treatment of metals and plastics
- waste containing copper, zinc, cadmium, mercury, lead or asbestos
- residue arising from industrial waste disposal operations
- waste residue from manufacture
- household waste
- residue arising from the incineration of household waste.