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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 waste (e-waste) is defined as waste in the form of electrical or electronic equipment, devices or things (or materials or parts of such equipment, devices or things), the operation of which is dependent on, or designed for the generation, transfer or measurement of, an electric current or electromagnetic field. In other words, this means is any device that has a plug, battery or power cord that is no longer working or wanted. It includes a range of items we use and discard from our homes and businesses, including televisions, computers, mobile phones, kitchen appliances, whitegoods, rechargeable batteries, and photovoltaic panels.
This information is about storing e-waste with due care to avoid leakages and hazardous substances being released into the air, water or soil, and minimising risks of fire
Who is this information for?
This information is for businesses that store e-waste before it is reprocessed. This includes local council transfer stations, resource recovery centres and other collection points for items like televisions, computers, mobile phones, batteries and lights.
Why do you have to take action?
The poor management of e-waste poses a hazard to the Victorian community and environment, particularly from 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 store 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
- separate and store e-waste away from other waste
- provide e-waste to an appropriate collector or re-processor that complies with the Waste Management Policy (E-waste)
- keep records of e-waste movement to the primary re-processor
- prevent breakage or spoilage of e-waste that might limit its suitability for reprocessing
- only store e-waste for the purposes of transfer, recycling and reprocessing
- take all reasonable steps to minimise how long e-waste under their control or in their possession is stored.
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.
Specified e-waste must be stored on an impermeable surface and protected from the weather.
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.
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).
Storage duration and managing stockpiles
E-waste should be transported to a compliant facility as soon as reasonably practical. See the Q&A to ensure you enlist a reputable operator that will transfer your e-waste to a fully-accredited reprocessor.
As an e-waste service provider, you must only store e-waste for the purpose of transfer, recycling or reprocessing. You must also take all reasonable steps to minimise how long e-waste under your control or in your possession is stored.
You can demonstrate that you have taken reasonable steps to limit the time you have stored e-waste through, for example, receipts/invoices/certificates of destruction from a compliant e-waste recovery service or a contract with a compliant e-waste recovery service which shows the frequency of collection.
Keeping appropriate records
Good record keeping is important because it means you can track resource recovery from your site and better manage on-site volumes being stored.
Good record keeping for storing e-waste includes:
- Name of e-waste generator/source.
- Address of e-waste generator/source.
- Name of transporter.
- Address of transporter.
- Vehicle registration numbers.
- Description of the waste type(s).
- Amount of waste(s).
- Determine hazards of e-waste for transport, and if required specify:
- hazard category
- UN number
- UN class/code
- dangerous goods class
- packaging group number.
Specified e-waste poses greater risk to human health and the environment. For any specified e-waste transported, you must record:
- date the specified e-waste is transported
- name and address of the premises from and to which the specified e-waste is transported
- description of the specified e-waste
- quantity of the specified e-waste.
All required records must be kept for a minimum of five years.
There are a number of additional record keeping requirements for e-waste reprocessors. These are specified in the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF 133KB). Also see E-waste reprocessing in Victoria for further information.
Controlling hazards and risks
Your understanding and management of risk is crucial. Assessing and controlling risk in a structured way will help ensure that your storage of e-waste:
- prevents harm to human health and the environment
- complies with your legal obligations
- meets community expectations.
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.
There are four basic steps your business needs to follow to control hazards and risks present in the storage of e-waste:
Your implementation of this process should be proportionate to the amount of e-waste your business stores and the type of e-waste service you provide.
What hazards are present that might cause harm?
Identify and understand risks, including:
- types of e-waste managed – does any of the e-waste you are managing contain hazardous substances?
- e-waste components – are any hazardous parts to the types of e-waste you are receiving?
- storage and handling practices – are they being stored or handled in a way that could contaminate soil, or water, or cause a fire risk?
- fire risks and potential impacts of fire management – have you considered whether the types of e-waste could pose a fire risk with how they are being stored (e.g.. batteries)
- site design, access and drainage – does your site have adequate ways of containing any potential soils or water contaminants?
- consideration of what is around your site, for example, houses or a waterway – could the environment or people be harmed if any contaminants were released or a fire started at your site?
- any other risk relevant to your site or operation.
What is the level or severity of risk, based on likelihood and consequence?
Understand and assess the level or severity of risk, based on consequence and likelihood. For example, a fire hazard can result in:
- runoff of firewater, combustion products and firefighting chemicals into local creeks and waterways, poor air quality and pollution due to emittance of toxic smoke
- harm to employees, visitors, contractors, emergency service personnel and others on site
- harm to surrounding residents and businesses and the broader community such as exposure to toxic smoke, asbestos or other reactive dusts.
Some typical questions to ask to identify the consequences of a fire include:
- Are there adequate distances between storage piles?
- Is there adequate access to/around the site for firefighting authorities?
- Have the minimum site access requirements stipulated by the firefighting authorities been adapted onsite?
- How could firewater runoff enter the environment?
- How far away is the nearest waterway?
Some typical questions to ask to assess the likelihood of a fire include:
- Has a fire occurred in the e-waste industry before, and if so, what were the consequences?
- Have there been any near misses at your site?
- How could variations in operating conditions increase the risk?
What measures are suitable and available to the business to eliminate or reduce the risk?
Reduce risks by implementing controls, for example:
- do not accept types of e-waste that cannot be appropriately managed or stored
- have appropriate infrastructure to store e-waste, such as an impermeable surface and coverage to ensure the e-waste doesn’t get wet
- avoid risky activities such as e-waste compaction or crushing
- isolate areas where risky activities occur
- install engineering controls to capture dust, vapours or liquids generated from e-waste processing or handling
- transport in a manner that avoids breakage or prevents dust escape
- train staff to appropriately handle types of e-waste
- provide relevant signs and instruction.
Review the controls to ensure they are effective
Regularly monitor and review the controls you have put in place for their effectiveness and take action to resolve any issues. Ensure controls continue to eliminate and/or minimise harm.
Useful links and resources
See the links and resources on the E-waste in Victoria page.
More information on e-waste storage in Victoria
See the Q&A on the E-waste in Victoria page.