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Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment



Indicator: Hazardous Waste

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Summary

There was an increase in the movement of controlled waste both into and out of the ACT during the reporting period. New imports consisted almost entirely of clinical and pharmaceutical waste. These wastes also featured heavily in increased exports, as did oils.

Stericorp Ltd and Energy Services Invironmental are authorised under the Environment Protection Act 1997 to treat various types of controlled waste. There were no breaches, orders or prosecutions at either of their facilities.

Collection of hazardous chemicals from ACT households was ongoing during the reporting period.

What the results tell us about the ACT

The National Environmental Protection Council (NEPC) reports on the implementation and effectiveness of the National Environmental Protection Measure (NEPM) for movement of controlled waste between States and Territories. During the reporting period there was an increase in the movement of controlled waste both into and out of the ACT (see Table 1). While there is a latent danger to the environment involved in increased transport of these types of waste, this is offset by the improved treatment that is the purpose of the transport.


Table 1: Movement of controlled waste in and out of the ACT (tonnes)
Type of waste Imports Exports
2000–01 2001–02 2000–01 2001–02
Plating and heat treatment 0.00 0.00 0.01 1.73
Acids 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Alkalis 0.00 0.00 0.03 6.83
Inorganic chemicals 0.04 0.00 0.04 0.04
Reactive chemicals 0.00 0.00 0.00 6.69
Paints, resins, inks, organic sludges 148.76 0.00 5.36 9.16
Organic solvents 0.00 0.00 0.00 10.61
Pesticides 0.00 0.00 0.00 167.42
Oils 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.80
Putrescible/organic waste 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Industrial washwater 0.00 0.00 5.0 3.91
Organic chemicals 0.00 0.00 0.08 21.90
Soils/sludge 1.79 7.42 10.8 90.92
Clinical and pharmaceutical 59.56 566.57 21.6 17.36
Miscellaneous 15.34 0.00 42.29 338.37
Total 232.32 573.99 190.03 235.62

Source: National Environment Protection Council 2001, 2002

Stericorp Ltd and Energy Services Invironmental are authorised, under the Environment Protection Act 1997, to treat various types of controlled waste.

Stericorp Ltd operates a high-temperature incinerator and an Electro Thermal Deactivation (ETD) treatment facility in Mitchell, ACT. Totalcare Industries formerly operated a different incinerator on the site. The following waste types are acceptable for treatment in the incinerator:

  • clinical wastes
  • pharmaceuticals
  • classified wastes
  • contraband wastes
  • quarantine wastes
  • ‘off spec’ and date expired products
  • infected animal carcasses
  • infected plant material
  • genetically modified organism waste.

Only certain types of clinical waste are acceptable for ETD treatment. These exclude pathological waste, anatomical waste, trace chemotherapeutic waste, cytotoxic waste, isolation ward waste, laboratory animals and associated animal wastes, waste containing hydrocarbons detected by the infeed hydrocarbon detector, and waste emitting radiation over three times the background radiation level.

The mass of waste imported from other jurisdictions for treatment, and the total mass of waste treated, at the Mitchell facility by both Totalcare and Stericorp increased considerably over the reporting period (see Tables 2 and 3).


Table 2: Mass of waste imported from other jurisdictions (tonnes)
Year 2000–01 2001–02 2002–03
Mass (tonnes) 314.4 568.6 1336.4

Source: Data supplied by Environment ACT


Table 3: Mass of waste treated (tonnes)
Type of Treatment 2000–01 2001–02 2002–03
Waste through electro-thermal deactivation N/A N/A 1056.2
Waste through incinerator 561.5* 702.3 796.7
Total waste treated 561.5* 702.3 1852.9 *

*Not all waste burnt in the Totalcare incinerator was hazardous waste.
Source: Data supplied by Environment ACT

Waste from the ETD (after treatment) has been classified as ‘inert’ waste under the ACT’s Environmental Standards: Assessment and Classification of Liquid and Non-liquids Wastes June 2000 (the Standards) and is suitable for disposal at Mugga Lane landfill. The waste (ash) from the incinerator is tested and classified periodically. Initially the ash was classified as ’solid’ waste under the Standards and was disposed of at West Belconnen landfill.

After further testing the ash was reclassified as inert waste and is being disposed of at Mugga Lane landfill. Energy Services Invironmental’s Mitchell facility started treating polychlorinated biphenyl contaminated transformer oil (both scheduled and non-scheduled) on 12 May 2003.

Before May 2003, plants were operated in Queensland by Energy Services International and Powerlink from 1997 to 2001. As a result, data for the volume of waste imported for treatment, or the total volume treated, at the Energy Services Invironmental Facility are available only from 2002–03. In 2002–03, 100,150 litres of waste was imported from other jurisdictions in 2002–03 (data supplied by Environment ACT), and 60,710 litres of waste was treated in the ACT in 2002–03 (data supplied by Energy Services).

Invironmental Energy Services Invironmental’s treatment process produces a recycled product – dechlorinated oil – which is reused in transformers. Caustic waste is also produced in the process, but none was disposed of during the reporting period. There were no breaches, orders or prosecutions of any facilities licensed to receive controlled wastes. Various controlled wastes are also collected from households in the ACT. Data show a decrease in the quantity of waste collected from 2001–02 to 2002–03. Complete figures were not available for 2000–01 (see Table 4).


Table 4: Controlled waste from household chemical pick-up
Type of Waste Quantity
2000–01* 2001–02 2002–03
Acids/bases (kg) 16 42 117
Banned chemicals – OC pesticides (kg) 40 107 148
Lab chemicals (kg) 50 80 70
Solvents (kg) 91 199 296
Pesticides/herbicides (kg) 75 456 514
Photochemicals (kg) 60 310 67
Other/unknown (kg) 49 320 76
Total (tonnes) 0.38 1.51 1.29

* Data for 2000–01 are for part of the year only
Source: Data supplied by Environment ACT, 2003

Data sources and references

Additional data supplied by Stericorp Ltd, Energy Services Invironmental, Environment ACT and NoWaste2010

National Environment Protection Council 2002, Report on implementation of the Movement of Controlled Waste NEPM , 2001–02, NECP, Adelaide.

National Environment Protection Council 2001, Report on implementation of the Movement of Controlled Waste NEPM , 2000–01, NECP, Adelaide.

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