February 2018

NSW C&D minimum standards update

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has said that it anticipates the regulation for its proposed minimum standards for construction and demolition waste will be made in June of this year.

Consultation on the draft Regulation and Standards for Managing Construction Waste in NSW closed in December 2017. The NSW EPA said it received approximately 50 detailed written submissions from a variety of stakeholders raising a range of complex issues and concerns with the potential impacts of the changes.

“The EPA has carefully considered the submissions and is currently reviewing the draft Regulation and Standards to ensure that these issues and concerns are appropriately addressed so that the changes achieve their intended outcomes while minimising adverse impacts for stakeholders and the environment,” the agency said outlining its position.

“While the EPA cannot set a firm date for the changes to be legislated, we can advise that they will not come into effect before 30 March 2018.”

According to NSW EPA, there are a number of steps required for the changes to be legislated:

  • a Better Regulation Statement must be prepared outlining the case for legislative reform;
  • advice on legal and regulatory implications of issues raised during consultation must be obtained;
  • proposed changes to the Regulation and Standards must be finalised to enable legislative re-drafting;
  • the proposed changes must be reviewed and the Regulation re-drafted by the Government’s Parliamentary Counsel’s Office;
  • the final package is presented to the Minister for the Environment for her consideration and decision;
  • the Governor, on advice from the Executive Council, makes (or declines to make) the Regulation.

Read the full story which discusses what the standards are here:

Minimum C&D waste standards in review

New upgraded waste facility opens in Moranbah, QLD

A $7 million upgraded waste management facility in Moranbah will cut cost, increase revenue and guarantee safe, reliable, long-term waste disposal for the region according to the Queensland Government.

Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said at the opening of the centre that it would inject $1.4 million into the local economy in the coming years.

Related stories:

“This new landfill cell and modern refuse transfer station will allow for the bulk handling of waste and provide users with a safer and more reliable means of waste disposal to meet the demands of the community and industry for the next two decades,” Mr Dick said.

“This facility guarantees a reliable means of waste disposal for the seven resource companies depositing 16,000 tonnes of construction, demolition, commercial and industrial waste per annum, and the 8900 permanent residents of Moranbah and surrounds,” he said.

“The facility’s improved efficiency will reduce double handling, cut council’s costs by an estimated 20 per cent and provide improved recycling separation from landfill.”

Isaac Region Mayor Anne Baker said the Moranbah Resource Recovery Centre Improvement and Expansion Project had been an important initiative for the area.

“This project was vital to meeting the continuing demand for waste disposal from residential, commercial and industrial sources across the region and enhancing environmental outcomes,” Cr Baker said.

“Without this project, the capacity of the current landfill had been expected to be exhausted this year.”

“The new refuse transfer station delivered as part of the project provides residents with a modern and purpose-built facility including a four-bay covered waste drop off area,” she said.

The Moranbah Resource Recovery Centre is jointly funded with $3.58 million from the state government and $3.58 from the Isaac Regional Council.

NSW waste parliamentary inquiry committee recommendations

A parliamentary inquiry into waste regulations has handed down its recommendations, including investigating options to restructure the NSW EPA.

It recommended the NSW Government investigate options to restructure the NSW Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA) to improve its performance and an independent review conducted into the EPA to assess the adequacy of funding for performance of compliance and enforcement, community engagement and a perceived conflict of interest between its compliance and policy and education roles.

The terms of reference sought to understand the impact of waste levies, the role of waste to energy and its impact on the recycling industry, regulatory standards, guidelines and policy statements on this and references to regulations overseas. In addition, it focused on illegal dumping and actions to prevent it, impacts of landfilling and the transport of waste out of the state.

NSW is the second highest per capita producer of waste in the world, with the final report acknowledging that successive NSW Governments have “failed to effectively leverage levy funds” to support the development of much-needed services and infrastructure, leaving the state dependent on landfill.

“The committee has made a number of recommendations to overcome this issue, including that the NSW Government hypothecate a greater percentage of waste levy funds to local councils and the waste industry to support the provision of additional waste services, initiatives and infrastructure,” said the Hon Paul Green MLC Committee Chair, in the Chair’s foreword.

Mr Green said there was a great deal of debate during the inquiry about whether the NSW EPA is regulating the waste industry effectively. He said stakeholders pointed to the increase in illegal dumping, including the insidious crime of dumping contaminated waste such as asbestos, the growing volume of NSW waste being transported to Queensland, and concerns about criminal elements targeting the waste industry, as examples of the NSW EPA failing to provide the strong, decisive, but fair regulatory approach this industry requires.

“The committee has made several recommendations to overcome these concerns, including that the NSW Government investigate options to restructure the NSW EPA, and undertake an independent review of the NSW EPA’s performance of its various functions.”

“Another key concern for stakeholders was the role of energy from waste technologies in New South Wales. Inquiry participants debated whether there was a place for energy from waste facilities in managing residual waste once higher order waste management techniques have already been exhausted, and whether the NSW Energy from Waste Policy Statement is sufficiently robust.”

He said the committee supports energy from waste in some circumstances, and has made a number of recommendations aimed at strengthening the regulatory framework for such facilities, including that an expert advisory body chaired by the Chief Scientist examine and report on these issues.

Among the report’s numerous recommendations are that the NSW Government ensure all funds allocated to Waste Less, Recycle More are spent in accordance with the program and that the NSW EPA undertake an audit of the program to ensure funds are fully expended to meet its objectives. It also recommends the NSW Government investigate opportunities to hypothecate a proportion of waste levy funds to support the development of innovative waste management technology, in addition to urgent consideration of attaching the waste levy to the generator.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said in a statement to AAP: “The government will consider all the recommendations from the parliamentary inquiry.”

Another recommendation is an independent inquiry into the operation, regulation and approvals of the Mangrove Mountain Landfill site. Furthermore, it recommends the EPA develop and implement resource recovery criteria for landfills in NSW. The NSW Government has until 28 September to respond to the inquiry.

You can read the full report here.

Big Bottle Tour of regional Victoria for container deposit scheme

A three-metre-long soft drink bottle will tour regional Victoria to call for a statewide container deposits scheme.

The Boomerang Alliance, representing 47 community groups and local government organisations, aims to rally thousands of Victorians and local MPs to encourage the state government to install a container deposit recycling scheme.

Related stories:

Currently, Victoria and Tasmania are the only two states that do not have a scheme planned or implemented in Australia.

The ‘Big Bottle Tour’ will begin in Stawell on Saturday 31 March and continue for two weeks travelling from Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Melbourne, Mildura, Echuca, Beechworth, Bendigo, Castlemaine and Ballarat.

The tour will collect drink containers along the way and deliver them to the premier, along with a message from regional Victora about the importance of waste and littering issues in regional communities.

Landcare, Coastcare, Boomerang Bags and Plasticwise groups, and the Scouts have joined the Boomerang Alliance to highlight the benefits of these types of schemes in local communities.

“With the recycling industry in Victoria on the brink of collapse due to contaminated kerbside collections, the Victorian Government needs to act quickly to implement a viable long-term solution that will deliver clean material acceptable for recycling and grow domestic reprocessing,” said Director of Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel.

“Victoria could lead on the circular economy around plastics but only by closing the loop and maximising the quality of reclaimed resource – container deposits schemes continue to prove their effectiveness in achieving this objective,” he said.

“As Victoria drowns in a sea of contaminated kerbside recycling, the time to act is now. Can the Andrews’ Government continue to ignore the evidence and oversee not only the destruction of Victoria’s recycling industry, but also the ongoing damage to its iconic environment?”

Port Fairy Sea Scouts Group leader Michelle Arnold welcomes the campaign and its three-metre large bottle to Port Fairy in a bid to get others to support the initiative.

“We see how well this scheme works for the scouts in South Australia. We have the setup to receive containers, we have eager scouts to go collecting and if you look at our scout hall, we certainly could put the funding to good use,” she said.

Planet Ark release business recycling toolkit

Planet Ark is releasing a free guide for businesses to help them manage waste better to mark its annual Business Recycling campaign.

The War on Waste Toolkit for Business contains ten tools, including a recycling checklist to ask prospective recyclers. Information on recycled options for paper and stationary is also available for office managers to help them recycle efficiently.

Related stories:

It also encouraged workers to use reusable alternatives to items like coffee cups, water bottles and shopping bags.

Construction and demolition processing mean tradesmen and builders can also recycle and use products from recycled materials.

Planet Ark designed the toolkit after 3.7 million Australians watched the ABC’s War on Waste in 2017, which prompted an unprecedented amount of inquiries on how businesses can do their part to recycle.

The NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA) along with Planet Ark, has found financially beneficial and effective ways for staff and employers to reduce waste.

For businesses that produce high volume of waste, the Small Scale Recycling Equipment Catalogue matches them with suppliers of equipment including compactors and balers to reduce costs and save time.

Planet Ark’s Recycling Programs Manager Ryan Collins says it will be an essential resource as Australia’s business waste grows.

“A 2016 report found that the average business produces 849 kg of waste per person each year. That’s where the Toolkit comes in. It gives employees and business owners free advice on how to turn their waste into valuable resources,” he said.

For more information get in touch with our communications team using the details below or visit BusinessRecycling.com.au.

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.

Related stories:

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.

The Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering a proposal for an organics processing facility at Mowbray in Launceston.

Tasmanian EPA consider new organics processing plant

The Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering a proposal for an organics processing facility at Mowbray in Launceston.

The proposal by Launceston City Council is to produce up to 15,000 tonnes of compost product a year, using Forced Aerated Floor (FAF) technology to aerate the compost piles and reduce the potential odours.

Related stories:

No representations were received in relation to the permit application, and a 40-day public consultation period was open in July 2017.

The Chair of the Tasmanian EPA Board Warren Jones said that the board concluded the proposed development could be managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions.

“Various environmental issues were considered by the Board in its assessment, particularly air emissions,” Mr Jones said.

“Conditions have been imposed to ensure appropriate management practices are in place during operation of the organics processing facility to reduce the risk of impact to surrounding sensitive receptors from odour emissions,” he said.