Most types of waste batteries are classified as priority waste (PW) under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act) and Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (the Regulations ). The relevant waste code is T300 (e-waste).
The priority waste duties include but are not limited to the following:
- take all reasonable steps to make sure the waste goes to a lawful place. This applies for waste producers, transporters and receivers
- contain the waste in a manner that prevents its escape
- disclose any information related to the risk to human health and environment
- isolate the waste to enable resource recovery.
Batteries are an ‘electronic waste’ (e-waste) under the Regulations and banned from landfill. Rechargeable batteries are also a ‘specified electronic waste’. Reprocessing them requires either A02b licence(s) or an A02c registration.
Lead-acid batteries and nickel-cadmium batteries are further classified as a reportable priority waste. The exception to this is when a designation applies.
Used lead-acid batteries and nickel-cadmium batteries
Used lead-acid batteries (ULAB) and nickel-cadmium batteries are classified as a reportable priority waste (RPW):
- lead-acid batteries are classified under the waste code D220 (lead and lead compounds)
- nickel-cadmium batteries are classified under the waste code D150 (cadmium and cadmium compounds).
Reportable priority waste carries the highest level of controls under the Act. This includes transport permissions and tracking requirements. Storing, treating, reprocessing, containing or disposing of RPW needs an A01 licence(s).
Designation for used lead-acid batteries
This change supports community drop-off sites and businesses such as mechanics, retailers and roadside assist services.
The designation includes conditions for the safe management and handling of ULABs. These must be met for the designation to apply.
The conditions set out in the designation are consistent with requirements under:
- Australian Dangerous Goods Code 7.7
- ABRI Guidelines: Packing & Safe Transport of Used Lead Acid Batteries
- EPA guidelines on liquids storage and handling.
Transport permissions and tracking is not required for transporting priority waste. ULABs are classified as priority waste when transporting:
- less than 4 tonnes of ULABs, or
- ULABs with a total combined electrolyte volume of less than 1,000 litres.
For any greater volumes, ULABs remain classified as reportable priority waste:
- The waste generator must start a Waste Tracker record. This must be before handing the ULABs to the transporter
- The transporter must hold an A10b transport permission
- The receiver must complete the record upon receipt.
Receiving or storing ULABs
ULABs are classified as industrial waste when storing less than 5 cubic metres at any time. EPA permission is not needed to receive and store ULABS within this limit.
ULABs are classified as priority waste when the volume received or stored is:
- less than 40 tonnes, or
- has a total combined electrolyte volume of less than 10,000 litres.
Storing this amount of priority waste needs A13c (waste and resource recovery – small) registration.
For any greater volumes, ULABs remain classified as reportable priority waste. An A01 (Reportable Priority Waste Management) licence is required.
A01 (Reportable Priority Waste Management) licence(s) is required where ULABs are:
This applies regardless of amount received.
EPA will maintain a zero-tolerance approach to fire risk for batteries. EPA maintains all available compliance and regulatory discretion.
Please review this page regularly to ensure you stay up to date with how to manage waste batteries.
Storage and management of waste batteries – guideline (publication 2018)
Reviewed 12 May 2023