Waste transportation in Queensland up for review with draft ERA

Queensland Draft ERA 57 Standard for regulated waste transport

Since the consultation opened in May for the environmentally relevant activity draft ERA 57 standard, criticism has been levelled at the timing of issuing the proposed code of compliance.

The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) closed the consultation into its draft code of practice for the transport of regulated waste by road – ERA 57 – on 28 June.

The DEHP regulates environmentally relevant activity (ERA) and publishes its codes of practice under ERA “standards”.

It had reviewed the current code of “environmental compliance for certain aspects of regulated waste transport – version 4”, which had originally contained 50 conditions. For its purposes, “regulated waste transport” consists of:

  • transporting 250 kilograms or more of regulated waste in a vehicle on a non-commercial basis; or
  • transporting on a commercial basis any quantity of regulated waste in a vehicle.

The DEHP recently developed an updated draft ERA 57 standard, which was released for public consultation in May. The eligibility criteria and standard conditions of the proposed new standard are based on the requirements in the existing code, but the conditions have been streamlined to align with the DEHP’s regulatory strategy.

At the time of publishing for consultation, the DEHP expected to finalise the updated ERA 57 standard before the end of this year. However, there have been calls for its progress to be delayed.

Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland (WRIQ) has been advocating the total overhaul of the state’s ERA register, in particular its “Suitable Operator” criteria.

WRIQ CEO Rick Ralph wrote to the DEHP’s Industrial and Development unit in May regarding the consultation on draft ERA 57 and another on tyre recycling. He drew attention to the DEHP’s Policy Unit’s ongoing comprehensive review of the waste sector’s ERAs in consultation with WRIQ, of which Queensland Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles is aware.

“We therefore find it quite incongruous that … your unit appears now to have completed a series of work that on the surface may be at total odds with these and other structural government reforms, particularly as the government’s Regulatory Impact Statement has not yet been released on the proposed new industry ERA framework,” wrote Rick.

Appealing for common sense on the matter, Rick explained how the industry must have a complete knowledge of the future operating landscape before it can provide insightful feedback on any waste-related draft ERA.

“We will in the future work on reforms to operating conditions, but for the moment will abstain until the macro work has been completed,” Rick added.

On behalf of WRIQ members, the CEO requested that the Industry and Development Unit suspend any work on ERA operating conditions relating to the waste industry until the Policy Unit’s process of reviewing and updating the framework is complete.

A message on the DEHP website advises that “the consultation period on the ERA standard for ERA 57 is now closed and responses are being considered”. Therefore, the Queensland waste industry awaits the next move on either the framework or the individual ERA.

The existing and draft ERA 57 standards are available from the Business and Industry portal of the DEHP website.