Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2012
Outcome 2: Operation of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989
The Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 enables Australia to meet its obligations under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (the Basel Convention). The Basel Convention regulates the international movements of hazardous wastes.
The Basel Convention was developed by the United Nations Environment Programme and adopted on 22 March 1989. Australia ratified the Basel Convention on 5 February 1992, and it came into effect on 5 May 1992. The Basel Convention imposes two kinds of obligations on members. Members are required to:
- control the export and import of hazardous and other wastes (household wastes or incinerator residues), provide for notification and consent as required by the Basel Convention, and track shipments of waste to their environmentally sound disposal
- minimise the movement and generation of hazardous and other wastes and ensure that hazardous wastes are disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.
Purpose of the Act
The purpose of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 is to regulate the export, import and transit of hazardous waste and to ensure that exported, imported or transited waste is managed in an environmentally sound manner.
Operational aspects of the Act
In 2011-12 the department received 42 permit applications under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 for transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. These comprised 16 export, 19 import and seven transit applications. Of the 42 applications, 19 were granted permits, two were refused a permit, two were withdrawn and 19 were still being processed as at 30 June 2012.
All permit applications were processed within statutory timeframes.
Details on each permit application and decision under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 is published in the Australian Government Gazette.
Compliance and enforcement
The department continued to strengthen its enforcement activities and acted in cooperation with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to prevent illegal traffic in hazardous waste.
Those with information that may be helpful in stopping illegal exports can contact the department’s hazardous waste unit by calling 1800 803 772 or emailing email@example.com.
Freedom of Information
The department provided information for one request under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal
In 2011-12, two applications were made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for the review of decisions not to grant a permit under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989. One was withdrawn by the applicant, while another was adjourned by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, at the request of the applicant, until August 2012.
This section fulfils the reporting requirements of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 (section 61) for the period 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012.
An annual report on the implementation of the Basel Convention by Australia was submitted to the Secretariat of the Basel Convention during 2011-12. National reporting under the Basel Convention is on a calendar year basis. Published reports are available on the Basel Convention’s website at www.basel.int/Countries/NationalReporting/StatusCompilations/tabid/1497/Default.aspx.
Monitoring and evaluation
The department is undertaking a review of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 and Regulations to ensure that Australia effectively and efficiently meets its international obligations and national policy objectives for managing hazardous substances, hazardous wastes and other wastes.
An issues paper was released by the department on 14 June 2012 for public consultation to seek feedback from stakeholders on issues that should be addressed in the review. Submissions closed on 12 July 2012. Twelve submissions were received from stakeholders. Following consideration of stakeholder feedback the department will prepare a consultation paper, anticipated for release in the second half of 2012, to undertake a more detailed discussion and analysis of issues.
Section 32 of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 prescribes fees for the lodgement of permit applications. This year’s income from fees totalled $14,890.
Section 58E of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 requires that the minister must establish a committee, to be known as the Hazardous Waste Technical Group, which may be called upon to advise on technical issues associated with the operation of the Act. The Hazardous Waste Technical Group did not meet during 2011-12 as there were no technical issues associated with the operation of the Act that required the group’s advice.
Information on the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 and its operation is available at www.environment.gov.au/settlements/chemicals/hazardous-waste.
Permit applications and decisions under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 are published in the Commonwealth Gazette, available at www.gazettes.ag.gov.au/portal/govgazonline.nsf/0/BEDEBB78DCBA9E4ECA256EA900043135?OpenDocument.