27 February 2020
On 3 February 2020, the Hazardous Waste (Control of Export, Import and Transit) (Amendment) Bill) (“Bill”) was passed in Parliament.
The Bill seeks to amend the Hazardous Waste (Control of Export, Import and Transit) Act (“HWA”) to include plastic waste within the scope of HWA, in compliance with Singapore’s obligations under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (“Basel Convention”), and to make other amendments for the better administration of the HWA. The Basel Convention was amended in 2019 to expand the scope of the Convention to cover certain categories of plastic waste. The amendments under the Bill are expected to take effect on 1 January 2021.
The Basel Convention controls the transboundary movement of hazardous waste via the Prior Informed Consent (“PIC”) procedure in recognition of legitimate transboundary movements of hazardous waste, such as recycling or disposal. The Basel Convention also imposes the PIC procedure on some non-hazardous waste streams such as household wastes or residue arising from the incineration of household wastes. Under the PIC procedure, exporting states wishing to export any waste stream covered by the Basel Convention have to obtain prior consent from the countries receiving the waste, as well as the countries through which the waste transits.
Amendments to introduce controls on plastic waste
The amendments to the Basel Convention expand Annex II of the Basel Convention to include certain categories of plastic waste which could impact the environment if not managed properly, such as mixed plastic waste. The Bill will amend the HWA to define “other waste” to mean waste belonging to any category under Annex II to the Basel Convention, as well as to amend the Schedule to the HWA to include the categories of plastic waste covered by the amendments to the Basel Convention.
Amendments to facilitate administration and enforcement
The Bill will also amend the HWA to facilitate administration and enforcement of the HWA in the following ways:
- Director-General of Environmental Protection to be responsible for administration of HWA: The HWA is currently administered by the Director of Hazardous Waste, as appointed by the Minister for Environment and Water Resources. The HWA will be amended to make the Director-General of Environmental Protection, appointed under the Environmental Protection and Management Act responsible for the administration of the HWA instead. Consequential amendments will be made to the Second Schedule of the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act 2018.
- Minister to notify in Gazette national definitions of hazardous and other waste: The Basel Convention allows parties to lodge with its Secretariat the parties’ national definitions of “hazardous waste” and “other waste” beyond the scope of the Convention. The HWA currently provides for the Minister, through notification in the Gazette, to extend the definition of “hazardous waste” or “other waste” in the HWA to include these national definitions. The amendments under the Bill will add a new provision to the HWA to extend these definitions to include all the latest national definitions lodged by parties to the Basel Convention and published on the Basel Convention website.
- Expansion of NEA’s enforcement powers to cover vehicles going through land checkpoints: The HWA currently provides the National Environment Agency (“NEA”) with the power to control the movement of vessels or aircrafts if there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that such a vessel or aircraft is carrying hazardous or other waste that is to be exported from, imported into or transited through Singapore. The amendments to the HWA will expand NEA’s enforcement powers to cover vehicles suspected to be carrying hazardous or other waste into or out of Singapore via land checkpoints.
- Opening Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources at the Second Reading of the Bill
- Closing Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources at the Second Reading of the Bill