News

UPDATE: CHANGES TO QLD WASTE LEGISLATION

NEW WASTE LEGISLATION INTRODUCED

KEY CHANGES
New regulated waste categories commenced on 4 February 2019 and the onus is on the operator to classify their own wastes.

The list of Environmentally Relevant Activities (ERAs) have changed, and more changes are scheduled to commence soon. You may be affected by the introduction of new, targeted waste ERAs.

Regulated Waste Changes

The Environmental Protection (Regulated Waste) Amendment Regulation 2018 commenced on 4 February 2019, introducing a new risk-based regulated waste categorisation process.

Regulated waste are now classified as either:
• Category 1 regulated waste (highest risk)
• Category 2 regulated waste (moderate risk); or
• Not-regulated waste / general waste (lowest risk)

Since the legislation commenced, waste generators are now responsible for categorising their regulated wastes by either:
• adopting a default waste category from the fixed list outlined in the EP Regs; or
• undertaking sampling and testing of the waste to determine an appropriate risk-based category.

Waste ERAs

On 22 November 2018, the Environmental Protection (Waste ERA Framework) Amendment Regulation 2018 (EP Reg Waste ERA Framework) commenced. The new legislation introduces key changes to the EP Reg, bringing in a new schedule of waste-related Environmentally Relevant Activities (ERAs). These new ERAs are being rolled out over two phases as follows:
• Phase 1 - commenced on 22 November 2018
• Phase 2 - scheduled to commence on 1 July 2019

The key Phase 1 and Phase 2 changes are detailed more in the following sections.

Waste ERA Phase 1 Changes

The key impact from the Phase 1 changes was the removal of the definition of "clean earthen material" from the legislation. Previously, the definition of "clean earthen material" included inert waste such as bricks, pavers, ceramics or concrete that does not contain embedded steel reinforcing rods, pulverised to a size of no more than 100mm. As a result, clean earthen materials were specifically excluded from the waste ERAs. This enabled operators to lawfully dispose of clean earthen materials on site without the need to obtain an Environmental Authority (EA) for the specific activity.

The removal of the definition coincides with the introduction of ERA 60 for disposal of inert wastes. Disposal of any volume of inert waste is now considered the following ERAs:
• ERA 60 Threshold (3) (a) operating a facility for disposing of, in a year, less than 50,000t
• ERA 60 Threshold (3) (b) operating a facility for disposing of, in a year, more than 50,000t to 100,000t
• ERA 60 Threshold (3) (c) operating a facility for disposing of, in a year, 100,000t but not more than 200,000t
• ERA 60 Threshold (3) (d) operating a facility for disposing of, in a year, more than 200,000t

The Phase 1 changes also bring into effect ERA 53 (organic material processing). As part of this change, the legislation introduces:
• a requirement for facilities that operate an anaerobic digester to obtain the relevant approval; and
• exemptions that exclude some on-farm composting activities from triggering the requirement to have an ERA approval.

DES has included transitional provisions in the legislation that provides existing operators undertaking these activities with a 12-month grace period to apply for the necessary EA. This transitional period will end on 23 NOVEMBER 2019.

ERA 60 is a "Concurrence ERA", which means that a development approval will be required before the EA can be applied for. The development application process with the State is inclusive of an EA application.

Waste ERA Phase 2 Changes

As of 1 July 2019, DES will introduce the following additional ERAs:
• ERA 54 Mechanical waste reprocessing
• ERA 55 Other waste reprocessing or treatment
• ERA 57 Regulated waste transport
• ERA 61 Thermal waste reprocessing and treatment
• ERA 62 Resource recovery and transfer facility operation

Importantly, ERA 54 for mechanical waste processing or treatment includes operating a facility that receives and processes or treats "waste" (including inert waste) using mechanical processes. Mechanical processing includes using processes such as crushing, milling, grinding, shredding or other mechanised sorting or processing equipment. If your activity receives or processes (e.g. crushing and/or screening) inert waste such as bricks in volumes of 5,000 tonnes or more per annum, then an EA will be required.

WHAT WE RECOMMEND YOU DO NEXT

If you think that you will need an approval for any of these new ERAs, you should consider your existing approvals and the possible development application requirements. Due to the lengthy approvals processes that can ensue, it is recommended that action is taken as a priority to ensure you have any necessary additional approvals in place by the end of the transitional period (23 November 2019).

GET IN TOUCH

If this update raises any questions for you about the upcoming changes, feel free to get in touch with us. If you think your activity triggers additional approval requirements from these changes, or if you need clarification on whether the changes affect you, we can help you navigate the approvals process. Contact Yoland Dowling (ydowling@groundwork.com.au) or David Doolan (ddoolan@groundwork.com.au), or call 07 3871 0411.