Sydney's Inner West Council achieves record divestment from fossil fuels

Sydney’s Inner West Council achieves record divestment from fossil fuels

That claim is made in regards to “clean, green investments”. The council has strongly pursued divestment from fossil fuel investments; a strategy which draws from campus culture (universities were famously early adopters of divestment policies) and shareholder activism (retail investors challenging the Adani mine are a recent high-profile example).

It may appear to some a contentious policy for government at any level to take, given that divestment is often seen as a bottom-up approach to sustainability; and particularly given that local governments in NSW are already tightly regulated in the forms of investment available to them. But others have argued that divested funds allow serious investors to speak from a competitive advantage; and that they return better financial results, with a stronger risk profile. Read more

Tracking NSW's infrastructure needs

Tracking NSW’s infrastructure needs

Between 2002- 03 and 2010-11, the volume of waste that was recycled rose from 5.3 million tonnes to 10.8 million tonnes. Significant investment in new recycling infrastructure has played a big part in this jump and over the years, independent infrastructure needs analyses commissioned by the NSW EPA has helped inform the development of Waste Less Recycle More (WLRM) I and the approval of the second initiative.

In July, NSW EPA manager waste and recycling infrastructure, Robbie Beale, presented the findings of the regulator’s latest waste and resource recovery infrastructure needs analysis conducted by KMH at the Waste Management Association of Australia’s NSW Branch mid-year industry update seminar. Read more

Legal Eagle: Proposed minimum environmental standards for scrap metal facilities

Legal Eagle: Proposed minimum environmental standards for scrap metal facilities

In a recently released consultation paper, the EPA’s goal is to ensure that, regardless of whether a facility is licensed under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act), all facilities will be required to comply with these new environmental standards.

The proposed EPA minimum standards are aimed at addressing the poor environmental performance of the scrap metal industry. Read more

Legal Eagle: Resource recovery orders and exemptions - how do they work?

Legal Eagle: are you aware of your deemed refusal appeal rights for EPL?

To put it simply, once the statutory time limit has lapsed and you have not received a determination from the EPA about your licence application, your application is taken to have been refused. This is known as deemed refusal. Any person who makes the licence application may then exercise its right to appeal to the Land and Environment Court (LEC) on the grounds of the application being deemed refused by the EPA.

The table below aims to illustrate the timeframe required for different applications to be considered as deemed refused. Read more

Revisiting the issue of interstate waste movement

Revisiting the issue of interstate waste movement

The issue has now hit the political headlines. It was framed by 4 Corners as a matter of criminal behaviour, which it isn’t. Queensland has committed to reducing it through increased inspection of interstate trucks. But it is legal. Inspecting truck certificates addresses a symptom only.

To be clear, trucking waste between the states is not illegal. It is part of the free trade between states that is protected under s.92 of the Australian Constitution. Read more

A resourceful inquiry

In April 2017, the NSW Parliament’s Planning and Environment Committee established an inquiry to examine the waste industry, with particular reference to energy from waste technology. The inquiry is looking at the provision of waste disposal and recycling services, the impact of waste levies and the capacity to address the ongoing disposal needs for our state’s waste needs.

What has struck me about the Inquiry is the level of engagement and the contribution of private industry players, local governments, industry associations and consulting firms. While the inquiry has some way to go, there appears to be a level of consensus from initial submissions. Read more

Local emergency waste management planning

Many local governments are reactive to such events and are trying to do the best they can. This approach can be inefficient, costly and may result in large quantities of waste going directly to landfill. This in turn utilises valuable landfill void space with materials that could have otherwise been diverted.

Wollongong City Council (WCC) is taking a proactive approach by strategically planning its waste management response and recovery for emergency situations (such as natural disasters). By doing so, WCC will reduce the public health risk, manage the waste more effectively, and divert recoverable and recyclable materials from landfill, thereby preserving the valuable void space at its Wollongong Waste and Resource Recovery Park (WWARRP).

WCC engaged Talis Consultants to prepare the Emergency Waste Management Plan (EWMP) with the primary objectives to understand the volume and profile of waste generated by disaster scenarios, and provide a framework to coordinate the waste management response and maximise diversion from landfill. Read more

Time for action: getting industry out of the corner

Speaking to industry players including NSW EPA director waste and resource recovery Steve Beaman, ACOR CEO Grant Musgrove, WCRA executive director Tony Khoury, Polytrade Rydalmere manager Nathan Ung, Bingo Industries CEO Daniel Tartak and Dial A Dump chief executive Ian Malouf, Four Corners’ “Trashed” showed viewers scenes of waste management practices, saying these would “seriously threaten the community’s faith in the billion-dollar recycling industry.”

Fixing the broken

Turning first to glass recycling, Four Corners took viewers inside Polytrade’s facilities where thousands of tonnes of glass are being stockpiled, and some landfilled, instead of being recycled. Read more

Heads of EPA discuss national approaches

At a Waste Management Association of Australian (WMAA) NSW industry update earlier this month, NSW EPA director waste and resource recovery Steve Beaman said HEPA – an informal organisation – decided to form this waste working group as discussions within COAG tended to focus on issues such as container deposit schemes and plastic bag bans, and there is “a bit missing where there’s a need for regulatory policy and for the states to get together to harmonise.”

Beaman told attendees the working group would meet “fairly frequently” and as a start, would be principle-based although the intent is to get into the details “fairly quickly” Read more

Legal Eagle: NSW Land and Environment Court sentencing judgement for contravention of EPL and POEO Act

Background

Mr Osman-Kerim was the sole-director of Sydney Drum Machinery Pty Ltd (Sydney Drum) and consequently, involved in the day-to-day management of the business. The business activities were conducted at St Marys and included the cleaning and reconditioning of intermediate bulk containers and drums, which were used as chemical containers by suppliers to store liquid products. Environment Protection Licence (EPL) No. 12893 was held by Sydney Drum and permitted container reconditioning and waste processing (non-thermal treatment) at the premises.

Contravention of EPL condition Read more