MRA warns of pitfalls of “definition of waste”

MRA warns of pitfalls of “definition of waste”

MRA Consulting is raising awareness of a recent court case that means a waste licence may be needed for activities that may not seem to be waste processing.

“Recent Land and Environment Court (LEC) and Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) decisions have clarified the meaning of ‘waste’ in NSW and it is important that people working in the sector understand exactly what the EPA, the legislation and Courts mean by the term,” says MRA’s Mike Ritchie.

In May 2016, Justice Craig of the LEC considered the case of Terrace Earthmoving PL, who had been charged with the commission of two offences against s143(1) of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) (POEO), which prohibits the transport of waste to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility (for that waste).

Mr Ritchie says the case is important because of how the judge, the Court of Criminal Appeal, and then the judge again, interpreted the meaning of waste.

MRA’s blog covers the judge’s revised definitions in full, which could present a potential pitfall for companies that are unknowingly undertaking what are now considered to be waste processing activities.

“In summary, in NSW almost anything that is unwanted or surplus in the mind of the original owner is waste and remains waste until it is reprocessed in some substantial way (but the reprocessing activities that render it “non-waste” are yet to be defined). Only lawful waste facilities can receive waste,” concludes Mr Ritchie.

More details on the case are on the MRA Consulting website.