Features, New South Wales

Update: EPA changes mind on recovered fines

Following industry consultation, the NSW EPA will not move ahead with proposed changes to the rules governing how skip bin residue, called recovered fines, is processed and used.

The EPA has listened to feedback over the past six months and heard the concerns of the waste and resource recovery industry and small businesses.

The EPA will not change the existing recovered fines orders and exemptions, meaning the current rules will remain in place.

To improve the quality of recovered fines, the EPA will focus on education to raise awareness about the need to exclude contaminants like asbestos from skip bins.

It will also increase monitoring, and work closely with industry to improve compliance with the existing rules and ensure companies understand and meet their obligations, including managing asbestos.

If companies do the wrong thing they will be held to account.

The EPA is committed to protecting the environment and reducing the risks to human health, taking action to reduce the harmful impact of waste and driving behaviours that create a circular economy.

The people of NSW expect the resource recovery industry to have the health of the community and environment at the centre of its processes and operations, and so does the EPA.

As part of the approach the EPA will investigate potential grant programs under the Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 to help improve source separation to provide better quality recovered materials and improve industry performance.

The EPA does not set prices for the disposal of waste collected in skip bins – this is done by waste companies that take the bin waste for processing or disposal. The EPA is engaging with the ACCC about skip bin pricing increases, and the Office of the Small Business Commissioner.

Recovered fines are residues left at the bottom of waste skip bins after all large recyclable material has been removed. The EPA has found this material can contain contaminants like asbestos and microplastics, which can pose potential health risks and cause environmental harm.

Recovered fines are used as a soil or sand substitute in landscaping products, sporting fields and residential developments.

Other successful education and compliance campaigns include Get the Site Right, where councils, government and the EPA work together to target sediment runoff from building sites, to protect Parramatta River and other important waterways.

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