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The information is for general guidance only. It does not constitute legal or other professional advice, and should not be relied on as a statement of the law. Because it is intended only as a general guide, it may contain generalisations. You should obtain professional advice for your specific circumstances. EPA has made every reasonable effort to provide current and accurate information, but it does not make any guarantees regarding the accuracy, currency or completeness of that information.
Electronic items contain valuable materials. These materials can be recovered from e-waste.
E-waste reprocessors accept a diverse range of used electronic waste, using a variety of methods to recover these valuable materials. Both e-waste and processed e-waste materials must be handled and stored with due care to avoid leakage and the release of hazardous substances into air, water or soil.
Specified e-waste poses a greater environmental and human health risk than other types of e-waste. More controls are required to store, handle and recover materials safely.
This information is about understanding your risk and putting in place controls to eliminate and/or minimise risk to human health and environment from reprocessing of e-waste in Victoria.
Who is this information for?
This information is for businesses that reprocess e-waste. Reprocessors alter the physical state of e-waste. This includes manual dismantling, shredding, crushing or compacting, thermal treatment, hydrometallurgy and other forms of e-waste treatment.
Why do you need to take action?
The poor management of e-waste poses a hazard to the Victorian community and environment. The primary risks from e-waste reprocessing are the impacts of air emissions, dust, ground contamination from e-waste liquid components, and fire.
Risky e-waste stockpiling may also result in the increased likelihood of fire and soil contamination. As some persistent organic pollutants, dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are released as combustion by-products of e-waste, the consequences of fires at e-waste reprocessing facilities could be substantial.
The Victorian Government has banned e-waste from landfill in Victoria, effective 1 July 2019. You will have to understand and control your risks to human health and the environment from this date.
What do you need to do?
Businesses that reprocess e-waste must:
- understand the risks of harm to human health and the environment posed by e-waste and communicate this to staff
- store, transport and handle e-waste to eliminate or reduce risk of harm to human health and environment, including fire risk
- maximise material recovery
- keep records for the movements of e-waste
- keep records of e-wastes materials through to point of usable material or disposal
- document the assessment of downstream processors or vendors of e-waste, process materials and residual waste
- support upstream providers to ensure e-waste is received in a way that minimises risk of harm to human health and the environment.
Storing and transporting e-waste
Where there is a risk, storing e-waste on an impermeable surface and protected from the weather, can help control dust particles and run-off being released that could contaminate land, surface water and groundwater
According to the Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises) Regulations 2017, ‘specified electronic waste’ means:
- rechargeable batteries
- cathode ray tube monitors and televisions
- flat panel monitors and televisions
- information technology and telecommunications equipment
- photovoltaic panels.
Specified e-waste must be stored on an impermeable surface and protected from the weather.
All e-waste streams at your site should be assessed for risks to determine any necessary controls. For example, you may identify that bunding is required to manage the risk of ground contamination from e-waste liquid components, including heating and cooling equipment or batteries. See Liquid storage and handling guidelines (EPA publication 1698) for more information about how to eliminate or reduce the risk of contaminating land, surface water and groundwater.
At a minimum, you need to ensure that e-waste loads are secure before transporting. You must also minimise damage or breakage. There are additional requirements for packing and transporting lithium batteries, see Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road & Rail, Edition 7.5, 2017 (PDF 11.86 MB).
Disposal of smoke detectors and smoke alarms
Smoke detectors and smoke alarms should not be crushed, shredded or dismantled in anyway as some contain a small amount of radioactive material. Domestic smoke alarms can be disposed in normal household rubbish. Disposing of smoke alarms in normal domestic rubbish does not contravene the e-waste disposal requirements. For more information please refer to Q&A on e-waste in Victoria.
Maximising material recovery
Businesses that reprocess e-waste must maximise recovery of output materials and minimise the amount of residual waste from the e-waste.
Where compacting, crushing or shredding occurs, appropriate isolation and engineering controls must be in place to manage the risk of harm to human health and the environment. This may include a dust collection system/apparatus. Relevant administrative controls, for example clear labelling of assemblies, components, and parts, and personal protective equipment should also be implemented.
Aggregated specified e-waste must not be deliberately crushed or shredded unless there are controls appropriate to the risk. The crushing and shredding of specified e-waste is likely to release a dust with hazardous properties. Many specified e-wastes contain lithium batteries that could cause a fire if damaged during crushing or shredding.
Crushing and shredding of other e-waste, such as whitegoods, may be acceptable provided there are relevant controls to address other risks including dust amenity, battery fires and liquids components (e.g. heating oils, coolants).
Keeping appropriate records
There are a number of record keeping requirements for e-waste reprocessors. These are specified in the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF 133KB).
Businesses that reprocess e-waste must keep records of:
- each load of specified e-waste accepted
- total e-waste flows per financial year
- total material recovery rate per financial year
- compliance with material recovery standards.
Evidence of recovery arrangements for e-waste can be demonstrated by receipts/invoices from a compliant downstream vendor or processor of materials recovered from e-waste.
All required records must be kept for a minimum of 5 years. These records allow EPA to cross-check records of specified e-wastes loads to ensure they are being received at the appropriate e-waste service provider.
Controlling hazards and risks
Any person that is responsible for e-waste must assess the risks of harm to human health and the environment and take steps to eliminate or manage the risks.
You can find out more by reading Assessing and controlling risk: a guide for business (EPA publication 1695). Use this guide as a starting point to develop your understanding of the risks at your site and the controls you need in place to manage e-waste at your site. This guide also contains useful resources like a hazard and risk register template and an example of a risk matrix to help you assess risks.
The Management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials - guideline (EPA publication 1667) provides practical information on how to control these fire hazards and risks for e-waste processing.
You may identify that bunding is required to manage the risk of ground contamination from e-waste liquid components, including heating and cooling equipment or batteries. See Liquid storage and handling guidelines (EPA publication 1698) for more information about how to eliminate or reduce the risk of contaminating land, surface water and groundwater.
Examples of hazards, risks and controls for e-waste are on the E-waste storage in Victoria page.
Useful links and resources
See the links and resources on the E-waste in Victoria page.
More information on e-waste reprocessing in Victoria
The information below is designed to help businesses that reprocess e-waste as part of their processing and/or recycling operations understand EPA’s licensing requirements.
There are legal requirements for the reprocessing of specified e-waste. These requirements assist in supporting legitimate and sustainable e-waste recycling opportunities in Victoria.
Premises with the capacity to reprocess more than 500 tonnes of specified electronic waste per year are scheduled premises.