It will also aim to provide the waste industry with certainty and set goals and incentives to ensure the correct infrastructure decisions are made to meet community needs.
Stakeholders, including local government, industry experts and the broader community, will work with the EPA over the next six months to provide an evidence base and address the key priorities for the waste and resource recovery sector.
This will include examining similar waste strategies in Australia and around the world.
A long-term vision and roadmap will include new long-term goals for waste generation and landfill diversion, new policy positions and strategic decisions that aim to avoid waste and improve resource recovery, and a plan for new or enhanced policies to improve waste collection.
A framework for the delivery of an integrated state network will be part of the roadmap, along with aims to align policy and regulation to achieve long term strategic objectives and a plan to strengthen data quality and access.
The strategy is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
By targeting rogue operators during transport, the NSW EPA aims to stop contaminated and non-compliant materials being illegally dumped or passed off as clean fill to innocent land owners.
Accepting large amounts of fill can create potential dust issues and pollute waterways.
NSW EPA Senior Officer Janine Goodwin said in some of the worst cases, operators are providing unsuspecting residents with soil cheaply or for free that is contaminated with construction and demolition waste, heavy metals or even asbestos.
“Councils require landholders to apply for development approval to bring larger volumes of fill onto private property. If a property is used to accept this material without proper council approval, both the landholder, the owner of the waste and the transport contractor may be fined and the landholder may discover they have to pay to have the material removed,” Ms Goodwin said.
“We have been checking things like documentation to make sure the waste is correctly classified and going to a site that has consent to accept it.”
ACT EPA’s Narelle Sargent said waste being transported between the ACT and NSW needs approval.
“Transporters and builders are on notice that the illegal transport and disposal of waste will not be tolerated in the ACT region, and large penalties apply,” Ms Sargent said.
This includes tracking waste vehicles that transport asbestos with GPS tracking devices and increasing the risks and consequences of being caught illegally dumping asbestos.
Penalties for not complying with directions from the NSW EPA could be increased within a six-month timeline, with additional regulatory actions implemented to deter unlawful behaviour. Sentencing provisions would also be strengthened under the changes in the draft, with courts able to determine the monetary benefits gained through illegal business models and included within their sentencing decision.
To make legal disposal of asbestos easier, the draft outlines investigating the removal of the waste levy from separated bonded asbestos waste and implementing additional ways to properly dispose of wrapped asbestos.
The NSW EPA would also work with local councils and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Activities to provide education and raise awareness to help change behaviours of householders and licensed asbestos removalists.
NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the government wants to make it easier and cheaper to do the right thing, strengthen regulation and penalties, close loopholes and disrupt illegal business models.
“The NSW Government is committed to reducing illegal dumping by 30 per cent by 2020 and this strategy is just one of the actions to fulfil that commitment,” Ms Upton said.
“In particular, we want to make the legal disposal of bonded asbestos cheaper and easier in NSW so the community and environment are safeguarded.
“Research commissioned by the EPA revealed the cost and inconvenience of legal disposal as major why asbestos is being illegally dumped,” she said.
Ms Upton said it is important that the community, local government and industry have a say on how asbestos waste is dealt with.
The draft of the NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy is available here, with consultations closing on 20 November 2018.
Winning initiatives include Auburn Hospital’s Think before you bin it project to improve recycling and reduce hospital waste and the City of Canterbury Bankstown’s We Like Greenacre Litter Free, which resulted in a 54 per cent reduction in litter in Greenacre over three years.
The Vinnies Container Deposit scheme won the inaugural Return and Earn Litter Prevention Award, as the organisation have collected millions of containers at their automated depot and over the counter return points in NSW.
The Return and Earn school’s category went to Glenmore Park High School, which mobilised its school community to collect litter to fundraise for a minibus for the Special Needs Unit.
NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO Anissa Levy said these projects along with other winners demonstrate the power of acting locally to reduce waste and litter in communities.
“All of the winners demonstrate extraordinary leadership in waste and litter reduction initiatives in our communities, and I commend them all on their efforts,” Ms Levy said.
Ms Levy said the NSW Government is committed to reducing waste and litter in the environment.
“We have dedicated $802 million over nine years to 2021 as part of the Waste Less Recycle More initiative – the largest waste and recycling funding program in Australia,” she said.
“We have also introduced the state’s largest litter reduction initiative, the Return and Earn container deposit scheme, to help achieve the Premier’s target of a 40 per cent reduction in litter volume by 2020.
“More than 814 million containers have been returned to return points across NSW in just over ten months, and drink container litter volume has already dropped by a third since November last year.”
All projects involved will include delivery of the EPA’s Food Smart and Your Business is Food programs for households and businesses.
The Food Smart program aims to educate NSW households about reducing food waste, with participants receiving a toolkit with bag clips and food huggers to reduce food waste. Your Business is Food provides businesses with information, advice and resources to reduce the amount of food that is disposed of.
Applications to the grants are open to local government in two stages. Stage one is the submission of an Expression of Interest by 19 November 2018, which will be assessed by an independent panel.
Successful applicants will be invited to the second stage to develop a detailed project plan. Funding of up to $20,000 is available for the project planning stage.
Final applications must be submitted by 18 March 2019.
For more information and to access the application form, click here.
A new organics processing facility has been opened at the Whylandra Waste and Recycling Facility to recycle food and organic waste from the surrounding councils.
The Dubbo Regional Organics Processing Plant (DROPP) commenced operations in early July and has begun receiving food and garden waste from Dubbo Regional Council, Mid-Western Regional Council and Narromine Shire Council.
It aims to divert a significant amount of organic waste from landfill and turn it into compost, reducing environmental pollution caused by leachate and methane gas production.
The facility received more than $7 million of funding from the NSW EPA, Dubbo Regional Council and JR Richards & Sons. The project was supported by the Environmental Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More Organics Infrastructure initiative, funded by the waste levy.
Dubbo Regional Council Mayor Ben Shields said the high-tech composting facility was built to handle organic material collected by three council as part of the new Food and Garden Waste Management service.
“It is great to see neighbouring Councils working collaboratively and sharing resources to achieve a common goal,” Cr Shields said.
NSW Member for Dubbo Tony Grant said the regional organics recycling will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by landfill.
“The carbon footprint of trucking the waste is minor compared to methane that would otherwise be produced by food and garden waste buried in landfill,” Mr Grant said.
“This is a fantastic local initiative where organic waste from the region will be processed locally and reused locally,” he said.
Image: Mayor of Dubbo Region Councillor Ben Shields, Member for Dubbo the Hon Troy Grant and Mayor of Narromine Shire Councillor Craig Davies officially opened the DROPP.
Toner from approximately 4000 used printer cartridges with more than 60 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 220 tonnes of asphalt used in the construction of the road along Old Princes Highway between Cooper Street and Engadine Road.
NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said this achievement demonstrates how committed organisations can find innovative solutions to waste reduction.
“The NSW Government has a comprehensive funding program designed to find more ways to make sure waste is taken out of landfill and put to good use,” said Ms Upton.
“In particular, the Product Improvement Co-investment program and the Circulate program together provide $10 million in funding to help find creative ways to reduce the amount of waste and find better uses than simply throwing it away.”
Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce said Council is committed to showing leadership in sustainability and the use of recycled products.
“Sutherland Shire Council collects over 25 thousand tonnes of recycling in the yellow top bins every year,” Councillor Pesce said.
“Using recycled plastic and glass in asphalt to create new road surfaces is just one of the innovative ways Council can reduce its environmental footprint through the use of recyclable material.”
Downer General Manager Pavements Stuart Billing said the milestone event demonstrated the importance of partnerships with other thought leaders to create economic, social and environmental value for products that would more than likely end up in landfill, stockpiled, or as a pollutant in our natural environments.
“Through our partnerships and desire to make a difference, we’ve shown how to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste.”
“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost competitive road product, called Plastiphalt, has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation making the road last longer, and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Mr Billing said.
The project is co-funded through the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.
“Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnerships with RedCycle and Plastic Police has allowed us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable products using problematic waste streams. We are very pleased to see soft plastics used for the first time in a NSW road,” said Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia.
Food and green waste will be recycled at the new facility and turned into compost products for reuse on parks, grounds and sporting fields.
The facility has a unique hybrid model of ‘in-vessel’ and ‘mobile aerated floor’ systems and includes a fully automated tunnel composting system to pasteurise food waste in two weeks
With a mobile aerated floor finishing. It also includes an automatic, cashless weighbridge system that gives users access to the facility with the swipe of a card.
REMONDIS CEO Luke Agati said the company is proud to be investing in Lake Macquarie and the Australian resource recovery sector.
“REMONDIS has been composting garden waste at Awaba for Lake Macquarie City Council since 2013, and this new facility will enable us to also convert food waste into a valuable resource,” Mr Agati said.
“The facility will convert up to 44,000 tonnes per year of organic waste into compost and soil amendment products.
“REMONDIS applauds forward-thinking local government organisations such as Lake Macquarie City Council for their dedication to building the vital recycling infrastructure that will create job opportunities, strengthen the Australian economy and reduce our environmental footprint.”
Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the Organics Resource Recovery Facility would see the City take a leading role in recycling and waste management.
“This is a significant step in our Waste Strategy and in our efforts to encourage people to think and act more responsibly about household waste disposal,” Cr Fraser said.
“By making it easy for residents to dispose of organic waste appropriately, we will encourage them to recycle and close the food consumption loop.
“About one third of household garbage bin contents is food waste, so this will divert significant amounts of organic material from landfill, extending the life of our Awaba Waste Management Facility and saving an estimated $4 million over 10 years in waste management costs.”
The project was supported by a grant of $2 million as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycled More initiative, funded from the waste levy.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the NSW Government was pleased to assist by contributing a $1.4 million grant to the facility and $0.6m for community engagement initiatives, from the EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative.
“This facility will improve the availability of organic compost for local primary producers and reduce unnecessary wastage of high quality organic material. I congratulate Lake Macquarie City Council in securing investment from a business with the calibre of REMONDIS.”
More than 100 contracting firms were engaged to build the facility, which also features an education centre where schools and community groups can see the recycling process.
Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility Branch Manager Gunther Neumann said REMONDIS is proud of its environmental achievements in Lake Macquarie.
“Since 2013, REMONDIS has diverted more than 100,000 tonnes of garden organics from landfill in the region, saving more than $13 million in landfill levies for residents,” Mr Neumann said.
“With the opening of the Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility, REMONDIS looks forward to a new chapter in organics processing that will deliver additional landfill levy savings and create new market opportunities locally, reinforcing our role as a valued member of the local community.”
The Regional Waste Strategy has received $120,000 in funding from the NSW EPA under the Waste Less Recycle More initiative, which uses funding gathered from the waste levy.
Blue Mountain, Blacktown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, The Hills, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith councils have all committed to participating in the plan.
Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) Vice President Barry Calvert said waste, like water and electricity, is a critical service for any city, delivered almost solely by local government in partnership with industry.
“Councils are constantly working to deliver safe, sustainable and affordable waste services to the community. This is no easy task in a region experiencing rapid growth, increasing household waste generation, and changing recycling markets,” he said.
“Working together allows councils to share knowledge, find efficiencies and work strategically to meet these challenges.”
Western Sydney’s first regional waste strategy was developed in 2014, which has helped local councils cut the percentage of household waste going to landfill from 49 per cent to 43 per cent.
“Our goal is to reach 30 per cent by 2025,” said Cr Calvert.
“Landfill space in Sydney is filling up fast. At the same time, we have a million additional residents moving into the region.
“We must reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill if council waste services are to remain affordable and sustainable well into the future,” he said.
Cr Calvert said the WSROC is working closely with the community to reduce the amount of waste created and to increase the rates of recycling.
“At the regional level councils will work with industry and the state government to identify and support new recycling methods, investigate new technologies and plan for future waste needs,” he said.