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EPA New South Wales will undergo an independent review of its Resource Recovery Framework to ensure the best possible protections are in place for the health of communities and the environment.
Central Coast is one of four communities in New South Wales piloting a two-year program to reduce food waste in their area.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority has announced a key heavy vehicle road safety initiative will be extended to all dangerous goods tankers.
Under the change, the EPA now requires all DG tankers to be fitted with a roll stability system.
Previously it was only compulsory in new tank trailers.
The requirement has been in effect since 1 January 2019.
Steve Beaman from the EPA said the requirement is the completion of a five-year implementation period for existing vehicles, while pertaining to new vehicles since 2014.
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“This critical initiative will assist in making NSW roads safer, protect the environment from hazardous material spills and potentially save lives,” Mr Beaman said.
Roll-over control automatically reduces vehicle speed when sensors detect wheel speed is producing a high risk of a vehicle rolling over.
The safety initiative follows recommendations by the NSW Coroner after a fatal tanker accident in 2009 at East Lynne on the south coast and another serious accident in 2013 at Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches.
“The safe transportation of dangerous goods is a very serious matter and the reforms were introduced as a consequence of fatalities involving heavy vehicles,” Mr Beaman said.
National Bulk Tanker Association Executive Director Rob Perkins welcomed the extension to all vehicles.
“New South Wales has shown real leadership in ensuring this very important safety measure protects vehicles from roll-over,” said Mr Perkins. “This undoubtedly contributes to improved safety for all road users in NSW.”
Compliance checks will be carried out to ensure tank trailers carrying dangerous goods using NSW roads have fitted the roll-over control system.
On-the-spot fines of up to $4,000 may apply for non-compliance.
The compost industry in Australia needs to improve its self-regulation to secure its ongoing social license to operate, writes Angus Johnston, Principal Consultant at Jackson Environment and Planning. Read more
The NSW EPA is stopping the restricted use of mixed waste organic material on agricultural land and is ceasing use on plantation forests and mining rehabilitation land until further controls can be considered.
In a statement, NSW EPA said the decision followed comprehensive independent studies, but the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) is calling for greater involvement in consultations in what it describes a “surprise announcement”.
Mixed waste organic material is predominantly made from organics in general household waste. Application on agricultural land ceased from Friday 26 October and use on plantation forests and mining rehabilitation land will be suspended until further controls can be considered.
NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO Anissa Levy said there was a robust scientific basis for the EPA’s decision to stop the use of the material.
“The restricted use of the mixed waste organic material had been permitted on the basis that it provided beneficial reuse of waste. Extensive independent research commissioned by the EPA found that it no longer passed that test,” Ms Levy said.
“The research found there were limited agricultural benefits from the application of mixed waste organic material at the regulated maximum levels of application, but there were potential risks to the environment from the presence of some contaminants, such as small pieces of plastic and glass, as well as concerns about soil quality degradation.
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Ms Levy said that as a result, the NSW EPA is revoking the Resource Recovery Exemption and Order – the regulatory instruments that permitted the material to be applied to specific land uses.
“As part of the EPA’s regulatory role, we commissioned an independent assessment of possible health risks related to the use of this product on agricultural land. The assessment used very cautious assumptions to estimate how much exposure a person might have to chemicals present in the material.
“Based on a review of the findings of this health risk assessment the use of mixed waste organic material on agricultural land is unlikely to present any health risk to the general public.”
The NSW Food Authority and NSW Health have reviewed the initial findings of the health risk assessment and expert scientific advice, and further work is being done, overseen by an independent panel formed by the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer. This is expected to be completed in the coming months.
The EPA is contacting all councils affected by the change to their waste management services and all landholders who have previously used the material to let them know, and to support them as they manage these changes.
WMAA in a statement argued that the waste and resource recovery industry was informed some six weeks ago that the EPA had completed research into the impacts of mixed waste organics and the expectation was that the regulator would then release its findings for wider consultation.
“Industry has after all had a long history of transparent and constructive consultation on the issue, dating back to 2008 when Hyder Consulting (now Arcadis) completed an extensive project into the chemical contaminants of alternative waste treatment (AWT) organics – the “AWT DORF” project – that was sponsored by industry, WMAA, and numerous state governments and departments, including the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.”
WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan said that it is imperative that industry is given a chance to review the findings particularly as the EPA has confirmed in today’s statement that the use of mixed waste organic material on agricultural land is unlikely to present any health risk to the general public.
She said this is consistent with research and assessments conducted by industry.
“We are calling on government to openly and collaboratively work with industry to ensure that NSW’s resource recovery industry’s future is not undermined and that industry and local government are not adversely impacted by this decision,” said Ms Sloan.
“Industry and local councils have invested significantly in AWT in NSW over many years with the support of the EPA. The EPA itself, in its review of waste and resource recovery infrastructure, noted in 2017 there was in fact a one million tonne shortage of AWT processing capacity across the state.”
WMAA acknowledges that there must be continued leadership by the EPA to drive positive resource recovery outcomes based on robust consultation and said it is looking forward to working with government on the future of recovery in NSW.
“We await the release of the technical report but in the interim, we need to ensure that collections do not cease because of this decision and that we do not lose the community’s confidence in resource recovery in NSW. It is also important that industry does not suffer losses because of this decision,” Ms Sloan said.
“It is vital that we maintain public confidence in our industry particularly given the challenges of late. Industry and government have a shared responsibility to work together to find long-term sustainable solutions. We appreciate government is willing to look into financial relief packages for industry and local government that may be severely impacted by the revocation of this exemption and order.”
Amanda Kane, Manager Organics, NSW Environment Protection Authority, speaks to Waste Management Review about its influential organics market development grants and the agency’s priorities for 2018.
Almost 100 million containers have been returned since the NSW Return and Earn scheme began in December last year, according to the official website.
Reverse vending machine technology, alongside over-the-counter and automated depots have helped NSW reach this goal. As of Monday, the website showed more than 98 million containers collected.
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NSW Minister for Environment, Gabrielle Upton said more than five million drink containers had been returned over the second weekend of February.
Nepean Distributors, a drinks product supplier to schools and sporting club canteens, have been supporting the scheme and having a positive impact on the local community, according to EPA NSW.
In two months, Nepean Distributors has processed 133,034 containers, with over record of 11,879 in a day.
“It is making people, especially kids and teenagers, think about recycling. We want to help change their mindset to think about their environment and cleaning up their local park,” Managing Director of Nepean Distributors, Anthony Morrissey said.
They have also teamed up with local sports groups such as Macarthur BMX to help fundraise for the club and encourage locals to donate their refunds to charities like the African AIDS Foundation.