The terms hazardous waste, prescribed waste and controlled waste are used by various Australian environment protection agencies and to all intents and purposes are interchangeable. Tasmania has adopted the terminology of the National Environment Protection (Movement of Controlled Waste between States and Territories) Measure 2004 (Controlled Waste NEPM) which uses the term controlled waste.
Controlled waste is the most hazardous category of waste and includes those wastes that exhibit toxicity, chemical or biological reactivity, environmental persistence, or the ability to bio-accumulate or enter the food chain. These wastes may be produced in a gaseous, liquid or solid state. It is environmentally unacceptable to dispose of them by the same means as we dispose of the more common by-products of our everyday lives.
Controlled waste is defined in the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA) and the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Waste Management) Regulations 2010. Controlled wastes are listed in List 1, Schedule A of the Controlled Waste NEPM and must possess one or more of the characteristics in List 2. The waste classification codes of controlled waste used in Tasmania are based on List 1, Schedule A of the Controlled Waste NEPM but include several other wastes prescribed in the Regulations.
The handling of controlled waste requires approval from the Director, EPA however, it is the responsibility of waste producers*, agents acting on the behalf of waste producers and receiving facility operators to accurately classify their wastes for appropriate management options including treatment and disposal.
The EPA Division has produced a decision tree and Information Bulletin 105 (outlining the classification and management of contaminated soil) to assist in determining if a waste is a controlled waste. An Advisory Note to assist in the classification of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH's) is also available. Written advice should be sought from the EPA Division if any doubt exists.
* Note that a "producer" may not be the original generator of the waste. The term includes anyone who has possession of waste and wishes to consign it for disposal, treatment, recycling, etc.