WCRA forum discusses interstate waste transport issue

NSW police, government authorities and the waste industry have met to discuss their concerns on the issue of interstate waste transportation.

NSW Police, EPA NSW, SafeWork NSW, Stay Safe Committee and waste industry representatives attended a dedicated forum last week, facilitated by the Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA).

The forum focused on the environmental and safety risks of waste transport from NSW to south-east Queensland, which has long been linked by industry representatives to the lack of a landfill levy in Queensland.

Convenor Dr Tony Wilkins stated that the industry is seeking to work with government to promptly find solutions to the issue.

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The forum heard that the volume of waste being transported north by a combination of road and rail has now exceeded in excess of a one million tonnes per annum. The economic loss to NSW from unpaid waste levies exceeds $120 million per annum, WCRA highlighted.

Chief Inspector Phil Brooks from NSW Police stated in his presentation that the large volume of heavy vehicle truck movements, combined with police observations of fatigued drivers and poorly maintained truck and trailers, confirmed there is potential for even more serious accidents.

The forum resolved that all attendees write to the NSW Premier expressing their concerns and that WCRA would write to the NSW EPA requesting that it hold a second forum by 1 March, 2018. WCRA also committed to increase its promotion of Chain of Responsibility training across the industry.

The forum argued the NSW Government should be exploring further measures to curb the complex issue.

Some suggestions included: licensing waste transporters and waste by transfer facilities, regulating minimum environmental and safety standards on equipment used to transport waste over long distances, and banning waste levy rebates for exhuming landfilled waste and rebates for landfills that operate as de-facto transfer stations without development approval.