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SA EPA disrupts illegal waste operations

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) South Australia, with the assistance of South Australia Police (SAPOL), the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and local government have disrupted illegal waste operations in late May.

The crackdown involved a number of search warrants executed at businesses and residential premises across metropolitan and regional SA in relation to the illegal activities.

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EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said this has been a complex investigation with significant outcomes and serves as a warning to those who operate illegally in the waste industry

“The lawful South Australian waste industry provides an essential service for our community and businesses managing around 4.5 million tonnes of waste annually and being responsible for around 5,000 jobs. The legitimate industry works to meet required environmental standards and supports our leading recycling culture,” Mr Circelli said.

“The EPA is committed to maintaining confidence in existing and planned investments by ensuring that unlawful operations are brought to account and do not undercut sound operations.”

Mr. Circelli said the four-month long investigation involved extensive surveillance and resources, and required the EPA to draw on special powers warrants introduced in 2017.

“This law allows the EPA to better regulate waste generated from construction, demolition and earthworks to ensure appropriate and safe transport and disposal,” he said.

The investigation identified more than 1000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste, including material containing asbestos.

“This operation is a great demonstration of the new powers and collaboration across multiple agencies working together to target the illegal operators and support the legitimate waste industry,” Mr Circelli said.

The Waste and Recycling Industry Association of SA (WRISA) President Jim Fairweather said there is no place in the waste, recycling and resource recovery industry for illegal or poor-quality operators that tarnish the reputation of the industry.

“WRISA supports the work of the EPA in upholding environmental standards and licence conditions as steps towards helping to maintain a waste and recycling industry that has the public’s confidence,” Mr Fairweather said.

SA EPA begin Operation Cover-Up

The SA Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has begun a targeted operation on truck drivers who aren’t properly covering their waste in transport.

Operation Cover-Up has observed 25 travelling on Port Wakefield Road on the first day of action, all of which were found to be compliant.

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SA EPA Acting Manager Investigations and Waste Tania Kiley said it is promising that these transporters are adhering to the law.

“This is a positive sign that truck drivers and waste companies are getting the message. Failing to properly cover waste while transporting material to waste management facilities poses a health and safety risk to the community,” Ms Kiley said.

“The type of waste found in waste vehicles includes demolition material amongst other waste items.”

“This can create a hazard for other road uses, the community, and can also lead to waste ending up in our stormwater and local waterways,” she said.

The maximum penalty for the offence is $30,000 or an expiation fee of $160.

“The EPA will be continuing Operation Cover-Up in coming weeks and those that do not comply with their obligations under the Environment Protection Act will be issued an expiation notice,” Ms Kiley said.

“We began our operation on Port Wakefield Road this year in response to numerous community complaints about litter on public roadways,” she said.

“Other areas across metropolitan Adelaide will also be targeted to ensure compliance with general waste transport provisions of the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010,” she said.

The SA EPA has encouraged anyone who sees transporters failing to cover their load while travelling, to call the EPA Hotline on 08 8204 2004.

SA plan for future of waste management

The SA Government has revealed a 30-year plan for the future of the waste and resource recovery industry in the state, estimating almost 5000 jobs could emerge in the future.

The Waste Resource and Recovery Infrastructure Plan outlines a pathway for the industry and will attempt to guide SA with metropolitan and regional profiles. It aims to pave the way for the state to exceed its 81.5 per cent diversion from landfill figure.

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It also aims to increase the amount of waste diverted from landfill and analyse the unique needs, opportunities and challenges facing communities.

New infrastructure is also planned to be developed, including transport and processing equipment, bins, covered compost facilities, monitoring technology, training, market development, and integrated waste data systems.

Projections for future trends within the plan include both a 10 and 30-year scenario. According to the 30-year estimate, the plan could deliver an additional $660.5 million in gross state product and about 4969 full-time-equivalent jobs.

Currently, the waste and resource recovery industry has an annual turnover of $1 billion, contributes $500 million to the GSP, and employs 5000 people across the state.

SA Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter said the SA Government is looking to further build their already successful and growing industry.

“This plan provides a vision where waste is managed as a resource through re-use and recycling, energy recovery is limited to non-recyclable materials and landfill is virtually eliminated,” he said.

“The transition to a more sustainable circular economy requires innovation along with investment and development of new infrastructure and technology to enhance resource efficiency and create business opportunities both locally and overseas.”

“I encourage the public and private sectors to continue to lead the way to a more sustainable future for our State through continued investment in this important sector of our economy.”

You can read the Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan here.