Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

New minimum standards for managing construction and demolition waste in NSW

The Environment Protection Authority has proposed a series of changes for the NSW construction and demolition waste sector that will set minimum standards to ensure the safety of the community, the protection of the environment and the maximisation of resource recovery.

The paper proposes other changes that include amendments to improve practices at landfills; changes to the handling of asbestos waste; and clarifications around the administration and application of the levy.

These changes build on the reforms of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014, seek to drive further resource recovery and address poor waste practices.

The EPA released a consultation paper New minimum standards for managing construction and demolition waste in NSW (PDF 655KB) which outlined the proposed changes.

The consultation closed on 17 November 2016.

The EPA is now preparing a consultation report that will address issues raised during consultation.

The proposed changes

The proposed changes provide for the setting of minimum standards to ensure the appropriate management, production and use of materials recovered from construction and demolition waste. These changes seek to ensure that waste materials are appropriately processed, the quality of recovered materials is maintained, and the environment and human health is protected.

Other changes proposed by the EPA include:

  • improving performance at landfills
  • improving the handling of asbestos waste
  • clarifying when transport waste deductions can be claimed
  • new operational purpose deductions
  • clarifying how the waste levy is applied at resource recovery facilities
  • changes to how waste is monitored at licenced facilities
  • improved waste transport
  • changes to the definition of land pollution; and
  • changes to licensing requirements for a small number of activities.

These proposed changes complement existing waste policy in NSW, including the NSW Government's Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2014-21, and the significant investment in grants and funding opportunities through the NSW Government's Waste Less Recycle More program (465.7 million dollars over 5 years).

The Problem

Through compliance programs and regulation activities the EPA has become aware of a range of issues in the construction and demolition waste sector. The building, construction and demolition waste sector has the potential to return large volumes of recovered material into the economy and into the environment. However, a number of operators in this sector have minimal environmental controls and poor processes that are not maximising the safe recovery of resources from construction and demolition waste.

This exposes the NSW community and environment to significant risks from contaminated products, including exposure to asbestos. These poor practices can also lead to the loss of valuable resources from our productive economy. The EPA has a responsibility to ensure that recovered materials are produced with all the necessary procedures to protect the community and the environment.

Background

The EPA implemented substantial reforms to modernise the NSW waste industry with the introduction of the Protection of the Environment (Waste) Regulation 2014.

The 2014 reforms were designed to achieve the objectives of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, including to protect the environment and reduce risks to human health in NSW.

The reforms also aimed to provide a level playing field for waste operators, minimise illegal dumping and minimise activities that distorted the market, such as excessive stockpiling.

To achieve these objectives, the 2014 reforms included:

  • lowering licensing thresholds for waste processing, resource recovery and waste storage facilities, and introducing levy liability for those facilities to ensure that waste is appropriately handled and processed
  • increased requirements for waste operators to report to the EPA, leading to improvements in data, improved understanding and more targeted regulation of the waste industry
  • new EPA powers and new technologies for waste tracking and waste data, including WasteLocate and other online waste reporting systems.

It is clear that the 2014 reforms have led to significant improvements in the operation of most waste facilities and improved ability for the EPA to efficiently regulate waste facilities.

Page last updated: 18 November 2016