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Poisons management

Regulated poisons are highly toxic substances which, if not stored, used or disposed of safely, have potential to cause serious harm to health and the environment.

The information on this page does not apply to exempt regulated poisons. Regulated poisons may be exempt when used for specific purposes.

Guiding legislation and definitions

Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (HDPR)

The HDPR prohibits a person from manufacturing, obtaining, dispensing, prescribing, selling, possessing or disposing of a regulated poison unless the person has an approval to do so or is otherwise endorsed under the HDPR.

Read more about approvals and authorities and licensing and fees.

Appendix 7 of the HDPR contains:

  • A list of regulated poisons
  • Information about exemptions

The Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EPA)

Most regulated poisons are also considered to be hazardous wastes—so this Act is also relevant when disposing of poisons.

The Environmental Protection Act 1994 defines substances that are considered to be hazardous waste and how this waste must be treated.

Schedule 7 Part 1 of the EPA contains:

  • A list of hazardous wastes. It includes most of the regulated poisons.

Options for disposal of regulated poisons

There are a number of options for the disposal of regulated poisons. These are:

(a)  Mechanisms approved under the EP Act.  In this regard you may dispose of the poison:

  • at a licensed waste disposal facility— operated by local government or a private entity. The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection licences these sites including granting specific approvals for regulated waste such as regulated poisons. Contact the disposal facility to confirm the type and quantity of waste and any specific requirements for disposal.
  • give it to a licensed regulated waste contractors who are licensed under the EP Act to accept regulated waste for disposal purposes.
  • under a trade waste agreement. This method of disposal can only occur under an approval issued by the sewerage service provider. Disposal into sewerage infrastructure without an approval is an offence under the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 with the maximum penalty – 1665 penalty units. Details of such agreements may be used to demonstrate safe disposal.

(b)   Mechanisms requiring approval under the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996. In this regard you may dispose of the poison by seeking approval to:

  1. Transfer it to another person authorised to use the regulated poison under the HDPR. This transfer activity can only be undertaken between two authorised users subject to approval from the Department of Health.
  2. Return it to the manufacturer for recycling or reuse. Industrial poisons manufacturers may accept large quantities of uncontaminated regulated poisons. The retailer of the regulated poison may be able to provide information about this disposal route. The authorised user may be required to ensure that the regulated waste is transported in a safe manner to the manufacturer.

(c) Other

  1. Bury it on the private property. This only applies to very small quantities of strychnine powder and unused baits containing strychnine and fluoroacetic acid for the control of vertebrate pest.

Persons with a HDPR endorsement must be able to demonstrate compliance with the disposal provisions and where relevant, the conditions of their authority, by maintaining appropriate disposal records. 

Options for disposal of common poisons

Options for safe disposal of small amounts of the most common regulated poisons are provided in the table below.

PoisonWaste disposal facilityRegulated waste contractorBurialRecyle/reuseTransferTrade waste agreement
Cyanide

Safe

Safe

Unsafe

Safe

Safe

Safe

Vertebrate pesticides

Safe

Unsafe

Safe

Unsafe

Unsafe

Unsafe

Liquid nicotine

Safe

Unsafe

Unsafe

Unsafe

Unsafe

Unsafe

If you want to dispose of large quantities of regulated poisons you should engage the services of a licensed waste contractor to ensure safe disposal.

In exceptional circumstances the local Public Health Unit may be able to accept small quantities of regulated poisons. You must have:

  • exhausted all available options
  • urgently need to dispose of the waste
  • arrange this directly with the local public health unit.

Activities related to the disposal of regulated poisons or waste—compliance requirements

Disposal after a disaster

Controlled (Schedule 8) drugs such as morphine and pethidine must be disposed of using Queensland Health's existing procedure for the destruction of controlled drugs. Send these drugs to Forensic and Scientific Services for destruction.

Restricted (Schedule 4) drugs (including vaccines) and poisons should be disposed of via existing commercial disposal arrangements at community pharmacies, through the Return Unwanted Medicines Program.

Schedule 7 poisons and Schedule 7 Regulated poisons, such as cyanide have strict restrictions placed on their handling and disposal.

Needles, sharps and liquid cytotoxic products should be placed in designated sharps or waste containers specifically designed for such waste and disposed of via existing commercial disposal arrangements. If this isn’t available, contact your public health unit or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Evidence of safe disposal

Evidence of safe disposal is required to be retained by the authorised user and may be subject to audit by inspectors as part of the approval process or compliance activities. Carriers of waste, such as licensed waste contractors are exempt from requiring an approval to be in possession of a regulated poison.

Guiding legislation:

The Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (HDPR) is administered by the Department of Health.

Transport of regulated waste

The movement of regulated waste is a licensable activity under the EPA where:

  • It is transported on a commercial basis
  • 250kg or more is transported on a non-commercial basis.

The waste generator may be entitled to transport small quantities of their own waste to a facility licensed to accept and manage the waste.

Guiding legislation:

The Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) and the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 are administered by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

Most regulated waste is also required to be tracked under Schedule 2E of the EP Regulation.

When transporting regulated poisons to be disposed of, the Transport Operations (Road Use Management-Dangerous Goods) Regulation 2008 and the associated Dangerous Goods Code must be complied with.

Discharging trade waster into sewerage infrastructure

Sewerage service providers can issue approvals to persons or they can set criteria about trade wastes discharged into the sewerage infrastructure.

The service provider (who may be a local government or utility provider) must be satisfied that there will be no adverse effects from the proposed discharge on any existing or potential re-use of the waste water or sludge. The discharge must also not pose a health and safety risk to anyone working on the sewerage system.

Each sewerage service provider will specify the type and quantity they will accept.

Guiding legislation:

The Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 is administered by the Department of Energy and Water Supply.

Further information

Last updated: 31 May 2017