Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

Organics processing facilities

The commercial processing of organics can deliver important environmental benefits, including the recovery and conservation of resources and a reduction in the quantity of organics going to landfills. However, if commercial composting facilities are not well managed they can have serious environmental impacts.

Regulations relating to organics processing facilities

Commercial composting facilities require planning consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Additional environmental protection licensing may also be required. The thresholds at which composting activities require an environment protection licence are contained in Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act).

Managing contamination

Organic materials received for recycling at licensed composting facilities need to comply with allowed materials specified in the facility's environment protection licence.

Composting facilities should negotiate with generators of organic materials to ensure that contamination in materials is at acceptable levels.

Preferred maximum limits for contamination in organic materials, such as garden organics, received for processing at composting facilities are outlined in Preferred Resource Recovery Practices by Local Councils – Best Bin Systems (PDF 781KB).

Statutory requirements relating to the land application of compost products

Compost manufacturing facilities need to be aware of a range of statutory requirements that apply to the land application of compost products. These regulatory measures are in place to ensure human and animal health and the environment is protected when organic materials are applied to land.

The application of waste to land off-site require the authorisation of an environment protection licence or a resource recovery order and exemption. Under clauses 91 to 96 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Waste Regulation 2014, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued resource recovery orders and exemptions for commonly recovered, high-volume and well-characterised waste materials. Where no exemption is available for the intended use of waste, facility managers should apply for an exemption to enable the lawful reuse of the waste off-site.

The use of materials included in a resource recovery exemption remains subject to all other relevant environmental regulations (such as planning, air and water regulations) and pollution offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. Adhering to the conditions of an exemption cannot be used as a defence against offences, such as the pollution of land (section 142A) or water (section 120) and special requirements relating to asbestos waste (clause 42).

Users of resource recovery orders and exemptions must still obtain the necessary planning consents and/or approvals from the appropriate regulatory authority.

More information

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Page last updated: 14 January 2015