What is hazardous waste?

Simply defined, a hazardous waste is a waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment. Hazardous waste is generated from many sources, ranging from industrial manufacturing process wastes to batteries and may come in many forms, including liquids, solids gases, and sludges.

You must obtain a permit before waste that is defined as hazardous is imported to, or exported from, New Zealand.

'Hazardous' is defined in the Basel Convention, schedule 3 of the Imports and Exports (Restrictions) Prohibitions Order (No.2) or any listing by the relevant country under the Basel Convention of the OECD Decision.


Step 1: Determine is your waste is hazardous.

The Basel Convention define hazardous waste, Annex I, III and VIII and is specified in schedule 3 of the Imports and Exports (Restrictions) Prohibition Order (No.2) 2004 (the Order). Some examples of hazardous waste include:

  • clinical and pharmaceutical wastes
  • wastes from the manufacture of wood preserving chemicals and organic solvents
  • waste hydrocarbons and wastes containing certain polychlorinated/polybrominated biphenyls
  • wastes from the production of inks, dyes, paints and varnish
  • wastes from photographic chemicals and processing materials.

You can find a list of all the types of hazardous waste on the Basel Convention website. In addition, some countries treat other wastes as being hazardous and require permits for trade in these. Under the Basel Convention and the OECD decision countries our permitting regime extends to these wastes when they are going to a country that has listed them.


If you are unsure about your hazardous waste contact importexport@epa.govt.nz , to get advice regarding the classification of waste materials and the application process. Once you have determined that your waste is hazardous, you are ready to start your application for export.


Step 2: Application forms

To export hazardous waste, you must fill out and submit the Hazardous waste export application form & the notification form for transboundary movements of waste. These forms can be found here. Allow 30 – 80 working days or more for the application and approval process to export hazardous waste.


Step 3: Collate required supporting documentation

Five pieces of supporting documentation needs to be submitted with your application to export, and to satisfy that the waste material will be disposed of/recovered in a responsible way at the destination.

Refer to the Exporting Hazardous Waste Application Guide on the EPA website for a detailed list of the supporting documentation to be submitted with your hazardous waste export application form.


Step 4: Submit your application  

When you have collated the five complete pieces of information and filled in the hazardous waste export application form. You can submit your application by:

  • email to importexport@epa.govt.nz with ‘Hazardous waste export application’ in the subject line
  • post to The Environmental Protection Authority, PO Box 131, Wellington 6140.

Forms and documents must be in a language acceptable to the relevant countries.

Once we are satisfied that the application is complete, it will be sent to all the other countries (transit and importing) for their consideration. These countries must agree to receive your shipments before we can issue you with a permit. This process will take some time (allow 30 – 80 working days or more). These countries may ask for more information and may consent to or reject your application. 

Any permit issued will have conditions added from the EPA and other countries. The transit countries that have given their consent will be listed on the permit.