House debates

Thursday, 18 March 2021


Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Amendment Bill 2021; Second Reading

9:32 am

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 implements Australia's international obligations under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel convention).

The Basel convention is an international framework that protects human health and the environment from the harmful effects of the international movement of hazardous wastes. All exports and imports of hazardous waste are assessed to ensure they are transported and managed in an environmentally sound manner, and precious resources are recovered for reuse in the manufacture of new products.

At the last Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, it was agreed to regulate the export and import of unsorted plastic wastes and plastic wastes containing hazardous substances, that cause harm to human health and lead to marine plastic pollution.

This bill is important so that we can align our laws with our international commitments, but more importantly, take responsibility for our waste and make sure it is managed in a way that doesn't harm human health or the environment.

The changes in this bill would complement the landmark Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020. All Australian governments have agreed that from 1 July 2021, only waste plastics sorted into a single polymer or resin would be able to be exported and from 1 July 2022 further processing would be required of waste plastics before they can be exported. The regulation of waste plastics covered by the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act will operate in tandem with the regulation of hazardous waste plastics under the Hazardous Waste Act. This will ensure the export of plastic waste from Australia does not harm human health or the environment.

The Hazardous Waste Act has now been operating for several years and the government has found ways to improve the effective and efficient operation of the act, while ensuring the standard of environmental protection remains high so that Australians can be better protected. This bill also makes changes to the act to:

            These changes will better protect our community and the environment.

            The bill also proposes to modernise the consultation process when declaring a material to be a hazardous waste, or that a waste processing technology is environmentally sound. This new process will provide flexibility to allow consultation with a range of stakeholders including appropriately qualified and relevant experts. This will ensure the government has the best advice available when making these declarations.

            I commend the bill to the House.

            Debate adjourned.