Characterising your waste
Waste tracking helps stamp out illegal dumping, prevents waste going to the wrong facility and stops unfair competition.
This fact sheet specifically details the waste producers' responsibilities for characterising waste and it will help you determine what you need to do to comply with the tracking of waste.
Why characterise your waste?
To comply with your obligations you need to characterise your waste to make sure that:
- the waste goes to a receiving facility that can lawfully accept the waste
- the waste is transported by a licensed transporter
- you can determine whether the waste needs to be tracked.
Types of waste that must be tracked
The types of waste that must be tracked are listed in Schedule 1 of the Environment Protection Act 1993. The EPA may issue an exemption in relation to one or more of the waste tracking requirements. More information is provided in the fact sheet Waste that must be tracked.
What are your responsibilities for tracking waste?
Waste producers are responsible for ensuring that high-risk waste is transported only after all the necessary documents and checks have been completed.
Having identified that a waste needs to be tracked, waste producers need to characterise that waste. This fact sheet specifically details the waste producers' responsibilities for characterising the waste. For more information on other responsibilities of waste producers refer to the fact sheet Waste tracking for waste producers.
Penalties for non-compliance
Failure to comply with a licence condition is a breach of section 45(5) of the Environment Protection Act 1993. This may result in the EPA taking regulatory action against the licensee for contravening a condition of an environmental authorisation (maximum penalty $120,000).
There are significant penalties for those caught illegally dumping waste. For individuals, penalties can be as high as $500,000 or 4 years imprisonment. For a corporate body the penalty can be as high as $2 million.
Waste producers or transporters who dispose of waste illegally could be fined up to $120,000 and face up to two years imprisonment and corporations face fines of up to $250,000, under clause 10 of the Environment Protection (Waste to resources) Policy 2010. Poor operators could even have their EPA licence revoked.
It is an offence to provide false or misleading information and can result in a maximum fine of $60,000
What do you need to do?
Before waste is transported from your premises ensure that you correctly characterise your waste.
How do you characterise your waste?
For waste that must be tracked during transport, the following waste characteristics must be determined and recorded:
- the form of the waste
- waste classification
- waste code
- waste description
- dangerous goods properties.
Form of waste. This refers to the physical state of the waste. In most cases wastes are obviously either solid or liquid. In some cases, such as some sludges, it is not so obvious. The EPA online tracking system provides a list of waste forms. They are:
- compressed gas
- solid and liquid - use only for waste movements involving small quantities of waste (some solid, some liquid), typically arising from laboratory clean-outs and household chemical collections.
Waste classification. Waste in SA is classified in accordance with the Environmental Guidelines: Assessment, Classification and Management of Liquid and Non-Liquid Waste. The waste guidelines provide detailed information about waste classifications. If in doubt, you should contact a specialist waste company for assistance.
Waste code. Waste codes reflect either the contaminants (eg D220 for lead) or source (eg F100 for printing waste) of the waste. The waste codes used in SA are from the Controlled Waste National Environment Protection Measure.
Waste description. Waste description provides more specific information about the waste than is usually provided by the waste code. For example, under waste code D220 (Lead and lead compounds), waste descriptions would include lead acid batteries, lead paint, etc.
Users of the EPA online tracking system can choose from a dropdown list of waste descriptions for each waste code.
Dangerous goods properties. If your hazardous waste is classed as 'dangerous goods', then the dangerous goods information should be included on the waste transport certificate. Both a Dangerous Goods Licence and an Authorisation to transport waste under the Environment Protection Act 1993 is required.
Online tracking system
Online tracking helps reduce the burden of paperwork on businesses and makes enforcement and compliance easier. For example, businesses tracking waste movements online are not required to submit forms, as the EPA can automatically collate the required data.
The EPA online tracking system can be used for tracking waste that is transported within SA or into SA from other states or territories.
Find out more about the online tracking system.