The Victorian Government has published details of the proposed regulatory framework to consolidate regulation of waste and recycling in Victoria.
In February this year, the Victorian Government released ‘Recycling Victoria: A new economy’. This strategy outlines the Victorian government’s plan to transform waste and recycling towards a circular economy.
To address some of the commitments made in ‘Recycling Victoria: A new economy’, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has published its Waste and recycling legislation and governance – Options Paper (Options Paper), detailing proposed changes including new legislation (Waste Act) and a centralised oversight body (Waste Authority).
The Waste Authority
The proposed Waste Authority will take over the functions of the seven existing Waste and Resource Recovery Groups (WRRGs), the infrastructure planning functions undertaken by Sustainability Victoria, and will administer the proposed Waste Act.
DELWP will retain its responsibility for state-wide waste and recycling policy, and Sustainability Victoria will perform industry development functions and undertake behaviour change programs. The EPA’s role in regulating waste and recycling in Victoria will remain unchanged.
The Waste Act
The purpose of proposed Waste Act will be:
- to support Victoria to achieve its waste and resource recovery goals, in accordance with the waste hierarchy; and
- to ensure waste and recycling services are reliable and meet community expectations.
These overarching purposes will be supported by six principles to guide decision-making in the implementation of the Waste Act: waste hierarchy; transparency; accountability; shared responsibility; climate change; and support for the objectives of other waste legislation and policy frameworks.
The Waste Act will also empower to the Waste Authority to require businesses to separate waste for recycling from 2025 and to set minimum service standards for household waste across Victoria. This will ensure household have access to the four core waste and recycling services, including organics, glass, comingled recycling and residual waste.
Local councils will remain responsible for providing households in their local government area with both waste and recycling services, but it will be overseen by the Waste Authority. The Waste Authority will also have powers to assist local council with procuring, contract managing and maintaining waste and recycling services.
Service providers will be required to support the work of the Waste Authority through mandatory reporting obligations, which is intended to complement the reporting requirements established under the amendments to the Environment Protection Act 2017 and associated subordinate legislation. The Waste Authority will also be able to intervene in the waste market by establishing ‘recycling market schemes’.
The Waste Act will also establish a container deposit scheme, state-based product stewardship schemes, and create a new waste and resource recovery infrastructure planning framework. In respect of infrastructure planning, the Options Paper recommends the consolidation of the current state-wide infrastructure plan and seven regional implementation plans into a single plan, referred to as the ‘Victorian Recycling Infrastructure Plan’.
The Options Paper will likely result in significant reform of the waste and recycling sector in Victoria. Industry stakeholders should consider making a submission to ensure that any concerns or potential opportunities are considered as part of the review.
Public consultation on the proposed model for the Waste Act and the Waste Authority is open until 9 October 2020.