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EPA to revoke recovered fines orders and exemptions

On 2 September 2021 the NSW EPA announced that it intends to revoke both the Batch Process and Continuous Process Recovered Fines (skip bin fines) Orders and Exemptions. The revocation is likely to occur at some point after a period of consultation with industry, which ends on 30 September 2021.

There is no replacement to the Recovered Fines Orders and Exemptions as the EPA intends to stop recyclers recovering fines from mixed building and demolition waste. The decision is based on a two-year audit of compliance in the industry. While the revocation has not been announced publicly by the EPA, the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association (WCRA) has informed its 210 Members.

The EPA has advised as an alternative that processors may seek a specific order and exemption for Recovered Fines recovered only from source-separated materials such as bricks, concrete, ceramics or mixed-use materials (not mixed building and demolition waste).

To improve the recovery of excavated soil, the EPA has announced a proposed new Recovered Soils Order and Exemption. A draft is currently being exhibited for which public consultation will close on 30 September 2021.

What does the revocation of the Recovered Fines Orders mean for you? If the Recovered Fines Orders and Exemptions are revoked, it will no longer be lawful to apply recovered fines to land. This includes any stockpiles produced prior to the revocation date but not yet applied to land. These stockpiles would attract the waste levy on disposal.

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The EPA announcement did not include any financial support for generators or waste levy relief for generators or consumers of Recovered Fines. The EPA advised it would be possible to apply for a Site-Specific Resource Recovery Order and Exemption for Recovered Fines produced using only source separate separated materials such as bricks, concrete, ceramics or mixed-use materials. However, this exception will likely be of limited use as the Fines cannot be produced from mixed building and demolition waste.

Further, the criteria announced by the EPA are vague and the likelihood of obtaining such an Order unknown. However, as an existing alternative members may wish to review whether the Recovered Aggregate Order and Exemption may apply.

Finally, recovered fines used as daily cover at a landfill attract a 75 per cent waste levy discount. What does the proposed Recovered Soil Order an Exemption mean for you? The proposed Recovered Soil Order and Exemption will apply only to excavated soil (including but not limited to natural materials such as sandstone, shale, clay and soil) that is processed and at least 98 per cent by weight natural material after processing. It must not contain asbestos and a range of other contaminants. Significantly, it must not be derived from the processing of building and demolition waste (including residues from skip bins).

Details of the proposed Recovered Soil Order and Exemption may be found at:

yoursay.epa.nsw.gov.au.