Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

Proximity Principle: Offence for transport of waste

The proximity principle aims to address the environmental and human health impacts in NSW associated with the unnecessary transportation of waste over long distances and ensure local communities play an active role in waste management by taking greater responsibility for the waste they generate. This regional approach to the management of waste is aligned with the Regional Waste Strategies developed by local councils and maximises the benefits of the $250 million infrastructure funding allocated under the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

What are the changes?

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 (the Waste Regulation) makes it an offence to transport waste generated in NSW by motor vehicle for disposal more than 150 kilometres from the place of generation, unless the waste is transported to one of the two nearest lawful disposal facilities to the place of generation (even if that facility is located more than 150 kilometres from its place of generation).

For the purpose of this offence, to transport waste includes to cause or permit waste to be transported.

For the transport of restricted solid waste for disposal, the offence provision applies where waste is transported by motor vehicle to a place that is not the closest lawful disposal facility for that waste.

Fines for a penalty notice for this offence amount to $15,000 for corporations and $7,500 for individuals and significant penalties of up to $44,000 may be imposed by a court on conviction for this offence.

What defences are available?

It is a defence to this offence if it can be established that the waste was not deposited at the place it was transported, or that the waste was transported:

  • for lawful and genuine recycling, resource recovery, energy recovery, processing or re-use, noting that simply storing or sorting waste does not constitute any of these
  • in an emergency to protect human health, the environment or property, or
  • as part of an approved mandatory product recall

When does the offence provision commence?

The offence commences on 1 November 2014.

How does this affect waste generators and transporters?

Under NSW law, owners of the waste have a lawful obligation to ensure their waste is transported to a lawful facility.

Waste generators and transporters must also ensure that waste transported for disposal is taken to lawful facilities located within an appropriate distance from the place of generation.

Examples

Scenario 1: Waste facility within prescribed area

In Scenario 1, no offence is committed under the Waste Regulation for waste transported to any of the facilities located within 150 km of the place of generation that can lawfully receive that waste, regardless of whether those facilities are used for disposal, storage or transfer.

However, an offence would be committed if waste is transported more than 150 km from the place of generation, given there are two or more waste diposal facilities inside the 150 km radius.  

Scenario 1: Waste facility within prescribed area

     Scenario 1: Waste facility within prescribed area

Scenario 2: Distant waste disposal NSW

In Scenario 2, no offence is committed under the Waste Regulation where waste is transported to:

  • Facility A or B (lawful waste disposal facilities) for disposal even though they are located more than 150 km from the place of generation because they are the two nearest waste disposal facilities (that is, there are no lawful waste disposal facilities located 150 km or less to the place of generation), or
  • Facility C for sorting, storage or transfer as it is within 150 km of the place of generation; or
  • Facility D (a recycling facility) for lawful recovery, recycling, processing or re-use.

Scenario 2: Distant waste disposal NSW

     Scenario 2: Distant waste disposal NSW

However, in Scenario 2 an offence would be committed where waste is transported:

  • Directly to Facility E (a waste disposal facility) for disposal as it is not one of the two nearest lawful waste disposal facilities, or
  • From Facility C to Facility E (a waste disposal facility) because the place of waste generation has not changed and Facility E is not one of the two nearest lawful waste disposal facilities

Scenario 3: Inter-state waste disposal

In Scenario 3, no offence is committed under the Waste Regulation where waste is transported to any lawful waste disposal facility located in another state or territory (regardless of distance from the place of waste generation) if there is a border crossing to that state or territory within 150 km of the place of generation.

Scenario 3: Inter-state waste disposal

     Scenario 3: Inter-state waste disposal

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Page last updated: 14 January 2015