Waste management is a contentious but important subject. In particular, in recent times a tension has become apparent between the use of the waste levy on waste disposed of to landfill and the practice of stockpiling waste instead of burying it.
- Two consultation papers have just been released by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation to address some of these issues
- Closing the Loop: Waste Reforms for a Circular Economy Consultation Paper February 2020 (Waste Consultation); and
- Review of the Waste Levy Consultation Paper (Levy Consultation).
- The Waste Consultation outlines a number of legislative reform proposals which the Government has pitched to improve waste management and promote a circular economy in Western Australia. These changes have the potential to affect the operators and licensees of licenced waste premises across the State.
- The Waste Consultation seeks feedback on a proposed amendment to the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA) (EP Act) to include objectives relating to waste avoidance and resource recovery. These changes have the potential to affect the granting of licences for waste premises and the setting of licence conditions under Part V of the EP Act.
- Waste stockpiling is identified as a critical issue in the waste industry and the consultation explores a number of options to disincentivise stockpiling. Options include the imposition of the waste levy on waste facility operators if waste is not removed from specified waste storage facilities within 12 months if it is not processed and it is not going to be sold or otherwise used. This option is presented alongside levy exemptions for waste used for construction or maintenance work carried out at licenced landfills.
- The Waste Consultation also proposes amending and amalgamating landfill and solid waste licencing categories. If implemented the proposed amalgamation and clarification of the existing five prescribed landfill categories under the Environmental Protection Regulation 1987 (WA) (EP Regulations), may result in changes to licencing of premises, licencing exclusions and the payment of the waste levy. Further, the proposed changes to the solid waste licencing categories would, amongst other things, affect the category licence required for the storage, re-use, treatment or sorting of solid waste.
- The Waste Consultation also explores numerous options aimed at supporting a circular economy, including using waste-derived materials in industry. It says that uncertainties in the current licencing and levying regimes may be contributing to a lack of waste-derived materials in the Western Australian market and notes that this issue is currently under separate consideration. We will provide a further update as details are released.
- Lastly, potential reforms considered in the consultation include amendments to the existing waste reporting scheme. These amendments would require waste facility operators to report on the weight, volume, origin and type of waste received at the waste facilities. The intention behind this reform is to allow more comprehensive waste data to be compiled and to assist decision-makers in shaping future waste initiatives.
- The Waste Consultation can be viewed here: https://www.dwer.wa.gov.au/consultation/waste-reform-consultation.
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