Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Waste tracking - frequently asked questions

Basics

User issues

Consignment authorisations

Consigning waste

Transporting waste

Receiving waste

Recording waste amount


Basics

What do I have to do when sending my waste for treatment or disposal?

Firstly, you need to characterise your waste so that you identify where it can be sent lawfully for treatment or disposal and whether it needs to be tracked when transported. Characterising your waste may be a simple or complex task, depending on how the waste was generated.

You must make sure that your waste is sent to a facility that can lawfully treat or dispose of it: see How does the waste tracking system work?

To determine whether or not your waste needs to be tracked when transported, see NSW waste tracking legislation.

What is a consignment authorisation (CA)?

A consignment authorisation (CA) is an approval for a specified waste to be transported from a consignor to a receiving facility. A CA can be valid for a period of up to one year.

For more information on CAs, see:

What is a transport certificate (TC)?

A transport certificate (TC) records an individual waste movement. 

If the waste is being transported to a facility in NSW, the TC can be created using online waste tracking. A TC is created from a consignment authorisation (CA) by either the consignor or receiving facility, provided they have appropriate log in access. A paper printout of the TC must accompany the waste during transit and the relevant parts of the paper TC must be certified as correct by the consignor, transporter and receiving facility.

If the online system is not available, it is possible to record the required information on a handwritten TC. If transporting waste to a facility interstate, you should contact the interstate environment agency of destination for advice.

For more information on TCs, see:

Note: Under the former paper-based tracking system used for waste movements solely within NSW, the TC was known as a 'waste data form'.

What are the stages that must be recorded in a waste movement?

The various stages from when waste is picked up through to when it is treated or disposed of are recorded on the TC. The stages recorded for the waste movement are:

  • Picked up - Waste has been picked up from the consignor's premises.
  • Arrived - Waste has arrived at the receiving facility but the receiving facility has not yet decided whether to accept the waste.
  • Accepted or rejected - The receiving facility either accepts the waste for treatment or disposal or rejects it. If the facility rejects waste, it either sends it back to the consignor or sends it on to another facility which will accept it.
  • Processed - The waste has either been disposed of, treated or placed into temporary storage if it is to be transferred elsewhere for treatment or disposal.
  • Rejected waste delivered - Rejected waste has arrived at the premises nominated by the receiving facility that rejected the waste.

For more information, see:

What do I do if online waste tracking is not available?

See the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) commitment to web access and your responsibilities

Note: Lack of access to online waste tracking should not prevent waste from being transported.

Consignment authorisation

If online waste tracking is not available when a receiving facility creates a CA:

  • Record the details of the CA elsewhere and allocate a temporary CA number. The format of the temporary CA number is up to you, but you should try to make it unique by, for example, starting the number with your environment protection licence number, e.g. if your licence number is 8999, the temporary CA number could be 8999-0001. Record the temporary CA number on any paper TC created while the system is unavailable.
  • When the system becomes available, create CAs in the system to replace the temporary CAs. Record the system-generated CA number on any paper TCs received which contained the temporary CA number.

Transport certificate

If the online system is not available to create or print a TC:

  • Record the details of the waste movement on a piece of paper (including signatures). This temporary paper TC should accompany the waste when transported.
  • When the system becomes available, the receiving facility should create a TC in the system for each temporary paper TC received and record pick-up, arrival, etc. details as usual.
  • If the temporary paper TC which accompanied the waste during transport contains the necessary details and signatures, it can be kept by the receiving facility as the 'legal' transport certificate provided that the system-generated CA and TC numbers are recorded on it.

If the online system is not available when the waste is picked up, received, etc. but a TC has been created in the system and a paper copy has been printed:

  • Record pick-up, arrival, etc. details on the paper TC and the receiving facility can enter these details into the online system when it becomes available.

User issues

How do I get a user account?

The online waste tracking has been designed with considerable flexibility to accommodate the needs of small and large businesses. Before applying for a user account, please see user roles & privileges.

If you want to be able to log on to online waste tracking and view, create or update information, see obtaining an online user account.

What can I do if I don't have internet access?

Waste producers and transporters who do not have internet access are still able to have their waste movements tracked on online waste tracking provided that the receiving facility has internet access. The receiving facility can enter all the necessary information into online waste tracking and generate the printed transport certificate (TC) which must accompany the waste while it is being transported.

Transporters who are acting as authorised agent for producers and who do not want receiving facilities to know which producers they are acting for should get internet access if they do not already have it. Online waste tracking has been designed to enable the agent to record the producers from which the agent is picking up waste in a separate part of the system not accessible to receiving facilities.

If internet access is not available when waste is picked up, the pick-up details can be recorded by hand on the TC and entered into the online system by the receiving facility when the waste arrives at the facility.

If online waste tracking is not available when a CA or TC needs to be created or updated, the actions taken can be recorded on paper and entered into the system later.

What should I do if a new person takes over responsibility for waste tracking in my business?

  • Advise the EPA so that the contact details in online waste tracking can be changed and new CAs created will include the new contact details
  • If the new contact person needs access to the system, apply to the EPA for a new user account.
  • If you no longer want the previous contact person to have access to the system, advise the EPA so that the old user account can be cancelled.
  • Change the contact details on any TCs where the waste has not yet been picked up.
  • If you are a receiving facility, edit the CA to change the receiving facility contact details on all your current CAs.
  • If you are a consignor, contact the receiving facilities you do business with and get them to change the contact details on your CAs.

Note: It is essential that you keep your contact details up to date - if there is an accident during transport, emergency services rely on this information to contact your business if they need more information about the waste.

Consignment authorisations

How do I find a consignor in the online waste tracking system?

The online waste tracking system contains a list of consignors. To find a consignor, you should first search the consignor list. If the consignor you want is not on the list, you can, in certain circumstances, enter a new consignor.

For more information on finding a consignor:

What do I do if I can't find a consignor in online waste tracking?

When creating a new CA, if you cannot find the consignor in the system, you can create a draft consignor. The draft consignor will be copied to any TCs created using the CA.

The EPA is alerted when a draft consignor is created. The EPA will check to see that the consignor does not already exist in the system under another name. If the consignor already exists in the online system, the EPA will replace the draft consignor with the consignor in the system on the CA and all TCs created from the CA. If the consignor does not already exist in the system, the EPA will enter that consignor into the system permanently.

If a printed copy of a TC with the draft consignor has already been used to transport waste, there is no need to print a new version of the TC if the draft consignor is changed. The printed TC with the draft consignor should be retained as the 'legal' copy by the receiving facility.

When recording a discrepancy, if you cannot find the consignor on the list, simply enter the consignor details into the discrepancy report.

Can I renew CAs in bulk?

Yes. If you have a number of CAs which are due to expire within the next month and you want to renew some or all of these CAs, you can use the batch-copy function. The important things to remember about batch copy are:

  • Only CAs due to expire within the next month can be batch-copied. CAs which have expired or have been terminated cannot be copied.
  • All CAs created through batch copy start on the day after the expiry date for the CA from which they are copied.
  • All CAs created through batch copy have the same validity period as the CA from which they are copied.

Consigning waste

Where can I send my waste?

You must ensure you send your waste to a facility that can lawfully accept it. In most cases, if your waste needs to be tracked, it must be sent to a licensed facility. 

See How does the waste tracking system work?

How do I characterise my waste?

For wastes which must be tracked during transport, the following waste characteristics must be determined:

  • Form - the physical state of the waste. In most cases wastes are obviously either solid or liquid. In some cases, such as some sludges, it is not so obvious whether a waste is solid or liquid.
  • Classification - Waste in NSW is classified in accordance with the EPA's Waste Classification Guidelines.
  • Waste code - Waste codes reflect either the contaminants (e.g. cadmium) or source (e.g. printing industry) of the waste. The Controlled Waste NEPM waste codes are used in NSW. See waste codes and descriptions.
  • Waste description - Industry has indicated that the Controlled Waste NEPM waste codes are often too broad to adequately describe their waste. To address this problem, more specific waste descriptions are provided under each waste code. See waste codes and descriptions.
  • Dangerous goods properties - If your waste is classed as dangerous goods, the dangerous goods information should be included on the TC.

Characterising waste is often not a simple process and may require specialised chemical knowledge. More guidance is available in the EPA's Waste Classification Guidelines. If in doubt, you should contact a specialist waste company for assistance. Online waste tracking provides dropdown lists for most waste characteristics.

See Which wastes must be tracked? and Glossary: waste

How do I record waste characteristics in online waste tracking?

Waste form and waste code are important factors in determining whether a receiving facility can accept waste for treatment or disposal. These must be recorded on the CA and form part of the CA. Waste form and code are copied onto each TC created from a CA and cannot be changed on the TC. If the waste being transported has a different waste form or code from those on a CA, the CA is not valid for the transport of that waste.

Waste classification, waste description and dangerous goods properties (if any) must be recorded on the TC. If these properties are generally the same for waste transported under a CA, you can record the properties on the CA. If recorded on the CA, the properties will be copied onto each TC created from the CA (avoiding the need to re-enter them on each TC). If these properties do not apply to a particular waste load, you can change the property values on the TC to accompany the load when it is transported. A separate CA is not needed for different waste classifications, descriptions or dangerous goods properties.

Note: Although waste classification and dangerous goods properties do not legally form part of a CA, they may be factors in determining whether a receiving facility is able to treat or dispose of the waste. Consignors should check with the receiving facility for any restrictions in this regard.

Online waste tracking provides dropdown lists for most waste characteristics.

Can I create transport certificates (TCs) in advance?

Yes. A transport certificate (TC), once created, can  be used at any time to record a waste movement provided that pick-up does not occur after the expiry date of the CA from which the TC is created.

It is possible to create several TCs for later use if desired. For example, if the user who normally creates TCs is going on leave, they could create enough TCs to cover waste movements during the leave period.

Note: The 'proposed delivery period' on a CA is the expected time between when a waste is picked up from the consignor and when it arrives at the receiving facility. It does not limit how far in advance of pick-up a TC can be created.

When do I record the waste amount?

Normally, waste amount is recorded at pick-up and again when the waste arrives at the receiving facility. If the difference between the amount at pick-up and arrival varies by more 20%, an  exception report is automatically created by the system. As long as the waste amount is recorded in the online system at pick-up and arrival, there is no need to report the variation in amount separately.

In certain circumstances, it is impractical to record the amount of waste at pick-up. Online waste tracking allows for this by providing a 'waste amount at pick-up required' check box. If it is impractical to record waste amount at pick-up, uncheck this box when creating a CA.

Warning: The EPA monitors the use of the 'waste amount at pick-up not required' function. Receiving facilities that abuse the option (i.e. uncheck the 'waste amount at pick-up required' checkbox when the waste amount can clearly be recorded at pick-up) may lose their approval to issue CAs.

When recording waste amount, select the most convenient unit from the list available. Tonnes and kilograms are available for all waste types. Litres is available for most waste types, except where the waste can only ever be a solid. Other units are available for specific waste types, such as cubic metres for contaminated soil and number of drums for drums contaminated with a controlled waste. The system has in-built conversion factors to convert waste amount to kilograms for comparing waste amount at pick-up and arrival.

Can an authorised agent (authorised contractor) consign waste?

An authorised agent (also known as an authorised contractor) transports waste on behalf of producers. Agents typically act on behalf of small producers and often collect waste on a 'milk run'.

CAs can be issued to agents, in which case the agent's name and contact details appear on the CA and any TCs created from the CA. The names and addresses of the producers for whom the agent is acting and from which the waste is collected do not appear on the TC.

For each waste movement, the agent creates a producer premises list containing the names and addresses of the producers from whom waste is to be picked up. The agent selects the producer premises from their agent's premises list for inclusion on the premises pick-up list. The premises list is separate to the TC and can be viewed only by the agent or the EPA. The receiving facility cannot view the agent's premises list or a producer premises list created from the agent's list.

The agent should print a copy of the producer premises list and this list should accompany the waste during transport. The producer premises list should be retained by the agent. It does not have to be handed to the receiving facility with the TC.   

Note: The online waste tracking system makes provision for agents to keep their list of producers confidential (i.e. not disclosed to the receiving facility). Whether a receiving facility is prepared to accept waste from an agent where the producer's details remain confidential is a commercial matter between the receiving facility and agent.

Transporting waste

Is there a time limit on how long waste can be in transit (proposed delivery period)?

The time taken to transport waste from the consignor to the receiving facility can vary. Online waste tracking enables the proposed delivery period to be specified.

Note: The proposed delivery period does not limit how far in advance of pickup a TC can be created.

What happens if waste is transferred between transporters during transit?

When a waste load arrives at a receiving facility and the transporter recorded on the TC differs from the actual transporter, the receiving facility must record the discrepancy.

What is the difference between waste arrived, accepted and processed and do I have to record these separately?

The online waste tracking enables receiving facilities to record:

Whether you record these steps separately or at the same time will depend on how your facility operates. The online system places no restrictions on how you record these steps other than you cannot record 'accepted' before 'arrived' and 'processed' before 'accepted'.

The online system provides the flexibility to match most business operations. For example:

  • If you operate a bulk liquid waste treatment facility and pump liquid waste received straight from the tanker into the treatment plant, you would record received, accepted and processed at the same time.
  • If you receive waste from a trusted source and accept it on arrival without testing each load but wait until several loads of waste have arrived before treating it, you would record received and accepted at the same time, but would record processed separately when the aggregated loads are treated.
  • If you temporarily store waste when it arrives while it is tested and then, if the test results are satisfactory, treat the waste immediately, you would record arrived first, then accepted and processed at the same time.

For more information, see:

What should I do if I receive waste I have concerns about?

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2005 allows you to receive waste temporarily while you undertake testing or other investigations to determine whether or not it is waste you can and are prepared to accept for treatment or disposal. You are allowed 21 days to make a decision on whether or not to accept the waste. If you need more time to make a decision (e.g. you are waiting on test results), contact the EPA for an extension of time.

Update the TC with a record of your actions in the online tracking system:

  • Search for and select the TC covering the waste movement.
  • Record the arrival (but not acceptance) of the waste on the TC.
  • Once you have made a decision on whether to accept or reject the waste, record this decision on the TC. Note: If waste pick-up has not been recorded on the TC, you will need to first record pick-up.

Alternatively, you can reject the waste on arrival but you must tell the transporter where to take the waste (either back to the consignor or to another facility that will and can legally accept it).

Recording waste amount

What are exceptions and discrepancies?

If certain things go wrong during transport, they can be recorded as a discrepancy or an exception in online waste tracking. In many cases, an exception is created by the online system automatically. Where discrepancies or exceptions are recorded in the online system, there is no need to report them to the EPA separately.

Discrepancy

A discrepancy occurs if the information on a transport certificate (TC) does not accurately reflect the waste movement which has occurred. Discrepancies can include the waste being incorrectly characterised [link to How do I characterise my waste] on the TC or the actual consignor or transporter being different from those nominated on the TC. Discrepancies are recorded in online waste tracking by the receiving facility. If a facility records a discrepancy in the online system, it does not need to report it separately to the EPA. 

For more information about recording a discrepancy, see:

Exception

An exception occurs when things go wrong during transport. The following exceptions can be recorded in the online tracking system. If recorded in online waste tracking, these exceptions do not have to be reported separately to the EPA.

Also, in the online waste tracking system, if waste does not arrive within the proposed delivery period and pick-up has been recorded, the system alerts the EPA. If pick-up has not been recorded in the online system at pick-up, the consignor, transporter or receiving facility should contact the EPA if the waste has not arrived within three days of the proposed delivery period.

Note: If you create a draft consignor, the system creates an exception to alert the EPA that a permanent record for the consignor needs to be created. In this case, nothing has gone wrong, it is just a programming mechanism to alert the EPA.

What do I do if waste arrives without a paper TC?

It is a requirement that a paper TC accompany all waste movements that must be tracked. There is no reason for a paper TC not to accompany waste during transport. If the online system is not available at pick-up, the required information can be recorded on a blank piece of paper and entered into the system by the receiving facility when the system becomes available.

If waste arrives without a paper TC, the receiving facility may still accept the waste if it is legally able to and wants to accept it. In order to record the arrival of the waste in the online system, the receiving facility should:

  • No TC
    Use Search TC to check to see whether a TC has been created in the online system. If a TC does exist, record the pick-up and arrival details as usual, but check the 'No paper TC' check box when recording arrival. Checking the no paper TC check box automatically creates an exception report. If the checkbox is checked, there is no need to report the arrival of the waste without a paper TC separately.
  • No TC, but valid CA 
    If there is no TC for the waste movement in the online system, use Search CA check to see whether there is a valid CA in the system to cover the waste movement. If there is a valid CA, create a TC for the waste movement and record the pick-up and arrival as usual, but check the 'No paper TC' check box when recording arrival. Checking the no paper TC check box automatically creates an exception report. If the checkbox is checked, there is no need to report the arrival of the waste without a paper TC separately.
  • No TC, no CA
    If there is no TC in the online system and the waste movement is not covered by a valid CA, create a TC w/o CA for the waste movement. To the extent possible, complete the details on the create TC w/o CA screen. If you create a TC w/o CA in the online tracking system, there is no need to report the arrival of the waste without a TC or CA separately. The online system creates an exception report automatically.

What do I do if the details on the TC accompanying the waste I receive are incorrect?

When a waste load arrives at a receiving facility and the details of the waste load recorded on the TC differ from the actual details of the waste load delivered, the receiving facility must record the discrepancy.

What happens if a receiving facility rejects a load of waste?

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2005, a receiving facility which rejects waste must tell the transporter where to take the rejected waste. The rejected waste can either be sent back to the consignor or sent to another facility that will and can legally accept it. See Update TC - rejected. 

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Page last updated: 13 June 2013