New rules for exporters of waste glass

Written by the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment. 

Australia’s first ever national waste legislation, the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020, became law on 17 December 2020.

The unprecedented waste and recycling laws cement Australia’s world-leading waste ban, create economic opportunities and jobs during the nation’s post-COVID recovery, and protect our marine environment.

The laws to regulate the export of waste paper, plastic, glass and tyres demonstrates the Federal Government’s commitment to Australia taking responsibility for its own waste, and is a giant step towards achieving our seven ambitious national targets for waste by 2030.

By ensuring only waste glass, plastic, tyres and paper that have been processed to acceptable level can be exported, we are preventing these materials from being dumped overseas, reducing harm to the environment and human health.

Exporters of waste glass are the first exporters to be regulated by the new laws as Waste Glass Rules came into effect on 1 January 2021. This means that exporters of waste glass now need to:

• hold a licence to export their product and comply with the conditions of their licence

• declare each consignment to the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, as well as to the Australian Border Force’s Integrated Cargo System.

Waste glass exporters can apply for a licence now through the department’s website.

A licence may be granted for up to three years.

To be granted a licence, exporters need to show:

• their waste glass will be processed to an acceptable specification (standard) prior to export

• the specification they will use is appropriate for the intended use in the importing country

• they have, or are in the process of securing, a commercial arrangement with a buyer.

The department will also conduct a fit and proper person check on the potential licence holder to confirm they’re suitable to hold a licence.

New Australian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) codes have been created for waste glass, replacing the earlier AHECC codes.

The new AHECC codes need to be entered when declaring a consignment to the department and the Australian Border Force.

Exporters should be mindful that any existing export declarations made through the Integrated Cargo System without a waste export licence, can no longer be used.

The department is working with exporters who are planning to export waste glass in early 2021. To export waste glass in January or February 2021, please email

Rules for waste plastics, tyres, and paper come into effect in stages over the next two and a half years, starting with plastics on 1 July 2021. From the following dates, you will only be able to export these materials:


From 1 July 2021 you will only be able to export plastics that have been either:

• sorted into single resin or polymer type

• processed with other materials into processed engineered fuel.

From 1 July 2022 you will only be able to export plastics that have been either:

• sorted into single resin or polymer type and processed for further use (e.g. flakes or pellets)

• manufactured with other materials into processed engineered fuel.


From 1 December 2021 you will only be able to export:

• bus, truck and aviation tyres for re-treading to a verified re-treading facility

• tyres that have been processed into crumbs, buffings, granules or shreds

• tyres that have been processed into tyre-derived fuel.


From 1 July 2024 you will only be able to export paper and cardboard that is processed or sorted to specific requirements.

The department will publish details and instructions before the rules for each waste material start.

Rules will be developed with input from industry.

Detailed information on how exporters of waste glass can apply for a licence and declare their consignments can be found on our website.

Australia’s first ever waste and recycling laws also encourage best practice in product stewardship and protects our marine environment.

This, combined with the Federal Government’s $1 billion transformation of the waste and recycling industries, will support the Australian community in recycling their waste so it can be turned into valuable new products.

It will help to ensure that our oceans are protected from marine debris and boost our economy.

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