Hazardous Waste in Australia was commissioned by the Australian Government Department of the environment and energy (energy.gov.au, 2017). Every year a report is submitted to the Australian Government containing the amount of waste generated in the country.
This data provides a baseline and this is an informative approach towards Australia’s progress with efforts to better manage the waste of the country.
Hazardous waste is said to arise when it causes demand for processing, storage, treatment or disposal infrastructure (Randell, 2017).
In the year 2014-15 it was observed that 5.6 million tonnes of waste that was hazardous was produced by Australia which was approximately nine percent of the total waste accumulated during that period. The waste accumulated is further classified into different types i.e (White & Heckenberg, 2011).
- Contaminated soil and Tremolite from development and demolition projects
- Mining waste such as from coal mines etc
- Waste from chemicals and heavy manufacturing industry
- Lead containing waste, acid batteries
- Grease trap waste
- Obsolete computer equipment
Hazardous waste in Australia is sent to three different sub markets and focus is on different wastes with distinct scales. 94% of the waste accumulated is managed by a framework located within the state/territory, 5% crosses interstate borders and 1% is exported/imported overseas (Ascend Waste and Environment, 2017).
This report explores the various problems that surrounds measuring the scale of the hazardous waste in Australia. There are number of ways to measure the problem, from the volume of waste generated through to different types of hazardous wastes. There are various factors that are being considered in this report that are related to measurement and includes the following:
- The problem that is related to the terms of volume and the waste that is being used for some beneficial purposes(White R. , 2017)
- Various movements taking place in Australia and its various surroundings
- The scale of the problem that includes the municipal , national and state level
- The waste that is being generated in the extractive sectors and resources industries
- The waste streams that are not included in the waste streams as for example the radioactives
Hazardous waste is having upward trends from the last five years. The problem persists in Australia because of infrastructure, technology, regulatory or shortcomings in the market economy.
The amount of Hazardous waste is growing at a faster pace than population growth rate. New wastes generated from coal mines, acid batteries are the main cause of hazardous waste (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2004).
Australia has 100 licensed sites to store its low and intermediate waste. Lower level of waste includes:
- Contaminated soil
- Glassware and protective clothing
Example of the waste included at the intermediate level are as follows:
- Waste released from the making of radiopharmaceuticals
- The Waste that the reprocessing generates (Fazzo & seta, 2017)
Waste Generation by Stream is listed in the Table below for the year 2014-15:
Australia National Waste Report 2016
The analysis of the prior trends in waste generation indicates more of industrial and solid waste while less of municipal solid waste. The National Waste report released in the year 2016 highlighted that the reduction in Municipal solid waste in linked to the decline in the printed paper and glass packaging and more expansion of recycling systems.
During the period 2006-07 to 2014-15 the quantity of material recycled in Australia increased abundantly from 27 mega-tonnes to 35 mega-tonnes or 1.4% capita per year (australianrdreview, 2017).
Following were the major issues highlighted that were indicated from the workshop review and highlights the various important issues faced by the country.
Regulatory Framework 85%
- Assigning and legislative responsibility 38%
- Responsibility of the environement23%
- H&S 23%
- Enforcement 15%
- Controlling 31%
- Service integrations 31%
- Basel convention signing 23%
Managing the chemicals that are hazardous
- government purchasing, Central location, segregation and storage, labelling 38%
- practicing the code 23%
Adequacy of Data on Waste Management and Recycling
The responsibility for collecting data on solid waste generation lies with the state and territory government. The need for adequate data on waste management and recycling was seen as being fundamental to the development and implementation of effective waste policy.
The reason of coming inclusion of Hazardous waste act was for the purpose of regulating the import as well as export of the wastes that are hazardous and to safeguard and protect people in the surroundings within and outside Australia so that no-one is harmed from the hazardous waste
Disposal standards govern the lawfulness, method, and location of disposal of a particular waste. The standards are defined to protect the human beings from the hazardous waste formulated by different harmful substances and for the protection of the environment and the surroundings.
Littering should be stopped to protect the environment from toxics that are formed due to waste material accumulated on the road-side.
International Agreement has been signed to protect the Health of the public and safe the environment from Hazardous waste. The principles and regulation Act formed is explained below:
The Basel Convention: The Basel Convention formed was signed by multiple companies to protect the public from the hazardous waste. This law is also implied upon Health care waste. The countries that signed the Convention were of the opinion that the hazardous waste is formed by the exports from different countries as there is no provision to dispose of the waste which is accumulated.
Legal provisions: To improve the health care practice in any country National Legislation is the only mode of improvement. Legal controls are being established and gives various permissions to the national agency that has the responsibility of disposing the health care waste. A policy document is mandatory to implement any law.
Improvement Programme Method
The work program to identify potential areas of improvement are:
- Conducting workshops and every capital to create awareness and conducting meetings at state/territory level.
- Industry and community consultations, including discussions with key stakeholders
- An inhouse quality and issues review
- An International review conducted by UK consultancy(Business.gov.au, 2017)
Motivations of Improving
There are varied improvement methods of motivation for improving national waste reporting:
- The Department’s project brief asked for improvements and suggested the following areas for improvement
principles of data quality such as scope, accuracy and timeliness
Best suited method for integration of liquid and solid waste data into national reporting
the scope of data recorded as food waste
the consultant’s experience, which led to proposals to
incorporate in the NWR 2018 wastes that are subject to product stewardship programs, electronic waste (e-waste) and detailed data on organic wastes by type
undertake for HWiA 2019 an assessment of the proportions of each waste type in different forms (solid, liquid, sludge)
- the recently increased profile of waste has led to an interest in providing more detail and better reporting
- stakeholder views and feedback, which suggested a few areas of improvement, including to support industry calls for harmonised definitions, classifications and reporting across the states and territories
- the prospect of conforming with the requirements of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounts
- the need for better data warehousing in the context of the demise of the proposed national waste data system
- technological improvement and the potential for more sophisticated data visualisations.
Potential areas of Improvement
- Scope for expansion including the waste covered, other waste information
- Improvement area for historical records
- Contribution to National standardization of waste data and reporting
- Interpretation of Data visualizations
Quality and Issue Analysis: Hazardous waste in Australia
Based on the experience in preparing HWIA 2017 in-house reviews were conducted on data quality and reporting issues across multiple states and territories which comprised of:
- Hazardous waste data collection processes
- The quality of data collected
- Scope and definition of parameters defined in the data
- Quality of Historical Data
- Improvements that relate to hazardous waste standards
Local government data
Local governments (councils) plays an important role in waste management. They are generally responsible for the management of domestic waste and own much of the waste infrastructure outside the metropolitan areas. Local government data was not directly collated for the NWR 2016 because it is typically a sub-set of municipal waste data collected from landfills and the recycling industry. However, there could be some benefit in separately identifying council waste data – for example, to report service types and levels by jurisdiction. The consultants reviewed the availability of local government waste data collations from the states and territories.
Based on the findings of the investigations, we proposed major improvements to national waste reporting in this report. A workshop conducted at the Department’s offices on 19 March and subsequent discussions and email exchanges resulted in a final agreed set of improvements that are documented in this section.
- Expansions to the scope are addressed in the following sections. Significant changes include: inclusion of data on local government waste management, product waste, tip shops, litter and dumping, container deposit schemes, mining waste, stockpiles, approved long-term storages, waste infrastructure and international waste flows
- increasing the depth of the detail and discussion, particularly of the key data areas of waste generation, recycling, energy recovery and disposal
- restructuring the national waste report to focus on these key data areas and remove the distinct sections on each state and territory (whilst maintaining and reporting state and territory data)
- construction of a flat database including the historical record of waste back to 2006-07 and interaction with that database using Power BI to generate data visualisations
- a contribution towards national standardisation of waste data and reporting by appending the national method and definitions as a basis for a potential future standard
- a range of improvements to hazardous waste data, including to correction methods, the historical record and the major publications that deal with hazardous waste.
In order to incorporate better environmental practices. It is very important on the part of the management to raise the level of awareness in the eyes of the people as well as the government so that better environmental practices can be incorporated in to the workplace routine: `
- Practicing codes or guidelines that can include chemical handling practices,
- In case purchase agreements the recycling materials ,
- Managing the sites as well as the contingency plans,
- There shall be in house knowledge and successful systems shall be build.
By the use of these approaches the existing resources can be maximized that includes the personnel , finance and knowledge (e.g. stop burning at landfills, to encourage recycling).
Ineffective methods of managing hazardous waste were those that:
- involved obtaining funds, or requiring people to pay for a service,
- various resources that included the personnel for the enforcement purposes were also included,
- applied systems used overseas without taking into account the local culture or sensitivities of people, as in legislation,
- providing equipment that doesn’t work, or requires more investment in equipment, or is complicated or expensive to operate.
The challenges that were faced by the PIC includes:
Improvements to be made in the management as well as the operation of the future as well as the existing sites and effective solutions that were low in costs.
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