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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.
This means 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, for example:
- mobile phones
- kitchen appliances
- rechargeable batteries
- photovoltaic panels.
The Victorian Government has banned e-waste from landfill in Victoria, effective 1 July 2019. E-waste is growing up to three times faster than general municipal waste in Australia. This ban helps to address the risks and opportunities associated with this rapid rate of growth.
More information about the ban can be found in the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF) and at e-waste in Victoria (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning).
E-waste must be separated from the storing, processing and disposal of other waste, as it can contain hazardous materials. These can harm human health and the environment. Also, valuable materials can be recovered for reuse from e-waste.
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.
The storing e-waste page has information about storing e-waste to avoid leakages and hazardous substances being released into the air, water or soil. The information is for businesses that store e-waste before it is transported to another facility for reprocessing. This includes local council transfer stations, resource recovery centres and other collection points for items like televisions, computers, mobile phones, batteries and lights.
The reprocessing e-waste page has information about legal and licensing requirements for the reprocessing of e-waste. The information is for businesses that reprocess e-waste as part of their operation.
Useful links and resources
- Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF) (Victorian Government Gazette, No. G26, 28 June 2018)
- Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises) Regulations 2017
- Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009
- Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials) (PDF 426KB) (Victorian Government Gazette, No. S 397, 28 August 2018)
- Environment Protection Act 1970
- Management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials – guideline (publication 1667) – a practical guide on how to comply with the waste management policy.
- Assessing and controlling risk: A guide for business (publication 1695).
- Liquid storage and handling guidelines (publication 1698).
- Controlling hazards and risks.
- How to find and engage consultants.
Australian Standards and Codes
- Australian Standard 5377:2013 free preview (PDF 282KB) – Collection, Storage, Transport and Treatment of End-of-life Electrical and Electronic Equipment. You can purchase this Australian Standard in full through Standards Australia.
- Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road & Rail.
- Sustainability Victoria – information about the E-waste Infrastructure Support Program and resources like signage for resource recovery centres.
- Sustainability Victoria – information about the public e-waste campaign.
- Victorian Building Authority – Building Regulations 2018 and information about the regulation of building construction, building standards and the maintenance of specific building safety features to protect the safety and health of people who use buildings.
- Managing e-waste in Victoria: response to comments.
This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 27 June 2019.
Q&A about e-waste
The enforcement regime is set out under the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF) and commenced on 1 July 2019.
Any person involved in e-waste activities as set out under the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) must take all reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce the risk to human health and the environment.
The measures taken to ensure compliance with the policy will be different for each business, location and situation. As Victoria’s environmental regulator, EPA will be taking a risk-management approach to enforcing compliance. The initial focus will be on sites with a high risk of waste stockpiling, which is a potential fire risk.
EPA has already issued licences to a number of e-waste facilities that have the capacity to reprocess more than 500 tonnes of specified electronic waste per year and consequently trigger EPA’s Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises) Regulations 2017. It is expected that these sites are compliant with their licence together with other regulatory requirements and will form the basis of the initial compliance program from 1 July 2019. All non-compliances will be assessed against EPA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
There is not a phased compliance program.
Compliance is required by duty holders at all times. Any potential enforcement activities would be in accordance with our Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
Duty holders have an obligation to minimise the risk of harm from pollution and waste. EPA will continue to engage with the sector on a risk-based approach as required.
Do all businesses collecting e-waste have to comply with the policy? What if I don’t have an enclosed shed?
All sites collecting e-waste will need to store e-waste in compliance with the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF). Each site is unique and sites will need to understand and control their risks accordingly.
For more information on assessing risk on your site, refer to Assessing and controlling risk: A guide for business (publication 1695).
Duty holders will be held to account for breaches of the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF) and Environment Protection Act 1970. Remedial notices may be issued to the duty holder to ensure the site becomes compliant. All non-compliances identified will be assessed against EPA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
E-waste can be mixed with other types of e-wastes or other types of waste provided it does not prevent recovery. For example, TVs, computers and toys may be collected together if your reprocessor is able to receive and recover these materials.
Products with minor electrical components, such as toys, are e-waste. Therefore, the requirements for understanding, mitigating and managing the risks for these products are the same as the requirements for e-waste.
We need to temporarily close our public drop-off centre and can’t provide an alternative site. Will this be an issue?EPA recommends that councils communicate any closure of their collection facilities and the options available for residents or businesses during the closure to minimise the risk of illegal disposal.
EPA does not consider that a waste transport certificate is required for e-waste.
The Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF) will govern the way e-waste is tracked across Victoria.
The Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF) outlines that any person who is responsible for reprocessing e-waste is required to keep records documenting the weight of incoming e-waste, together with the material recovery rate for each financial year (among other requirements). EPA can request these records to ensure compliance with the Policy.
From 1 July 2019, e-waste is banned from landfill in Victoria and will need to be managed in accordance with the Waste Management Policy (E-waste) (PDF).
The landfill ban of e-waste is reflected in a Variation to Waste Management Policy (Siting, Design and Management of Landfills). This variation prohibits the deposit of e-waste in landfills unless dispersed in negligible quantities in other waste streams.
Landfill operators must have appropriate controls at a landfill to minimise the deposit of e-waste in landfills.
Guidance for landfill waste acceptance is provided in Section 7.4 of the best practice environmental management (BEPM) Siting, design, operation and rehabilitation of landfills (publication 788).
E-waste is banned to landfill, so it can’t be disposed of in a landfill bin.
For household e-waste drop off locations, contact Sustainability Victoria.
Domestic smoke alarms can be disposed in normal household rubbish.
Domestic smoke alarms are not included in the e-waste requirements that came into force on 1 July 2019. Disposing of smoke alarms in normal domestic rubbish does not contravene the e-waste disposal requirements. They must not be crushed, shredded or dismantled in anyway as some contain a small amount of radioactive material.
When the domestic smoke detector is a type designed for battery replacement, the batteries can be removed from an undamaged smoke detector. Batteries from a domestic smoke detector should be disposed by following the advice from Sustainability Victoria.
Reviewed 25 September 2020