The NSW EPA is committed to addressing the entire waste management system from minimising generation through to helping create sustainable markets for recycled materials, according to the authority’s new draft Regulatory Strategy.
Armidale Regional Council is applying for a grant from the NSW Government to remediate its old Guyra Landfill.
This year’s AWRE is providing a platform to connect industry stakeholders, issues and policy, as the waste and resource recovery sector gears up for an investment driven 2021.
Veolia recently welcomed members of the NSW EPA Board to its Woodlawn Eco-Precinct. The Precinct manages roughly 20 per cent of Sydney’s putrescible waste, using it to generate clean energy for up to 30,000 homes.
The NSW EPA’s recycling support program Bin Trim is closing in on a major milestone, with almost 30,000 local businesses supported to divert waste from landfill.
The NSW EPA has updated its Prosecution Guidelines, which identify the factors the EPA takes into account when deciding whether to launch legal proceedings, including prosecutions, under the EPA’s environment protection legislation.
A total of $731,300 has been awarded to seven projects through the NSW Government’s Circulate Program.
According to NSW red bin audit data, 41 per cent of red lid bin waste has the potential to be recycled as food and garden (FOGO) waste each week.
Amanda Kane, Organics Manager at NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) said regional NSW has embraced FOGO and inner city councils are on the rise to strengthen their FOGO services.
In March 2020, a green lid bin update of the 2018 NSW FOGO bin audit was released and Kane said the results were similar, highlighting the need for further FOGO projects.
Kane virtually presented findings at the Waste 2020 webinar series, organics and FOGO.
“Since the first audit in 2018, contamination has gone down to 2.2 per cent and we’re seeing some great figures in this area,” she told webinar attendees.
However, Kane said according to the audit update report, there are significant changes and service variations by region.
“Where effective FOGO services are in place in NSW, there are actual changes to the way all waste services operate, including household,” she said.
“FOGO services seem to reduce the total amount of waste generated, increase dry recycling, recover more resources and divert more from landfill.”
Kane said there are a variety of factors that require further exploration, including changes in broader behaviours and attitudes due to changes in services, education around FOGO extending to other waste issues, and how strategic waste management leads to ongoing improvements.
The FOGO Education Deep Dive Project is now underway across 24 FOGO councils and DPIE is hoping this program will drive increased efficiency.
“Social research will indicate how people use the bin, what they think about it and why they do particular behaviour,” she said.
“It’s in the field now and we expect draft findings by the end of the month. We will also be working with the FOGO council to test education interventions.”
Kane said the Net Zero Emissions plan released in March, that includes Net Zero Emissions of Organics Waste by 2030 is a game-changer for organics in NSW.
“With organics, there are opportunities through diversion, plus carbon benefits in soils, increased yields, improved water retention that builds drought resilience and improved soil health,” she said.
In NSW, organic waste has only been measured through tonnes diversion from landfill.
“Now, we will be looking at measuring through emission reductions, and are aligned with the emissions and climate policy,” Kane said.
In the meantime, Kane said DPIE is working through refining the organics policy direction through the 20 year waste strategy.
“We are also seeking funding post 2021, to get that extra 41 per cent of organics out of the bin and meeting those emission targets,” she said.
The next instalment of Waste 2020’s webinar series will explore the role of social enterprise in the circular economy. To register click here.
Image credit: Katherine Griffiths / City of Sydney
As the COVID-19 situation unfolds, the NSW EPA has assured industry it will continue to fulfil its responsibilities as the state’s primary environmental regulator, while maintaining the health and safety of staff, communities and other partners.
According to an EPA statement, the authority has a business continuity plan in place, which is being reviewed regularly in light of the most up-to-date advice.
“That includes planning to allow staff to work remotely where appropriate so that we maintain our compliance, enforcement and pollution response activities as best we can to prevent environmental and community harm,” the statement reads.
“We will continue to require compliance with licence conditions and issue clean-up notices and prevention notices where necessary. The EPA may however, consider requests for exemptions on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.”
The EPA is strongly recommending waste and environmental management businesses implement their own continuity plans, if one is not already in place.
“That plan should take into account the updated advice being provided by NSW and Commonwealth health officials, including any sector-specific advice,” the statement reads.
“Now is also the right time to check you have everything in place to enact your pollution incident response management plan.”
A continuity plan will help businesses meet responsibilities for any environmental impacts from activities, as according to the EPA, licence conditions and other regulatory responsibilities remain in place.
“These include the priority responsibilities of maintaining and operating pollution control equipment, and storing, transporting and disposing of waste appropriately,” the statement reads.
Licensees in the waste industry should maintain good communications with clients and the EPA, the statement suggests, particularly around predicted service disruptions.
“Licensees must continue to notify the NSW EPA of pollution incidents and other regulatory or compliance issues or events,” it reads.
One year on from the NSW EPA’s ban on mixed waste organic material, Waste Management Review speaks with key industry stakeholders about resource recovery exemptions.