Insights / September 7th, 2017

Proposed amendments to the EPA’s waste tracking and surveillance powers

Parliament is currently considering the Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill 2017 (2017 Bill). The 2017 Bill is the result of consultation in 2016 on the waste reform bill (draft Bill). See our previous insights on the draft bill below.

The 2017 Bill retains and expands upon the dominant theme in the draft Bill – increasing the waste control powers for the EPA. Any person who has any dealings in waste should be aware of the implications of the 2017 Bill which grants to the EPA sweeping tracking, monitoring and waste control powers including:

  • If you transport waste that the EPA suspects will be illegally dealt with, the EPA may apply to the Supreme Court for a warrant to track the waste in your vehicle by installing a GPS device on the vehicle or by marking the waste within the vehicle.

  • If the EPA suspects that you are dealing with waste illegally at a particular premises, the EPA may apply to the Supreme Court for a warrant to monitor your disposal and storage of waste by installing surveillance cameras on the premises.

  • If you are the owner of a vehicle that is used to transport waste, and the waste within your vehicle has been dealt with illegally either at the source site or at disposal, you, as the owner of the vehicle transporting the waste, may be found guilty of that offence and liable to pay the prescribed penalty and expiation fee (if any) fixed for the offence.

  • If you were the holder of an EPA licence under which you deal with waste, the EPA may issue an environment protection order in relation to waste that has been stockpiled or abandoned under your EPA licence even after your licensed activity has ceased.

  • You can no longer rely on the technical argument that waste has not been disposed of because it has been “stockpiled” on the basis that the meaning of “disposal of waste” will be amended to include the stockpiling of waste.

  • The EPA may impose a stockpiling limit on your EPA licence which it can amend as it considers necessary. The EPA may also require you to provide financial assurance if it considers there is a risk that you will exceed your stockpiling limit.

  • If you handle waste material that meets certain reuse criteria, you may apply to the EPA for a declaration that the material is an “approved recovered resource”. An approved recovered resource is not considered to be a waste under the EP Act, and accordingly, is not subject to the same regulation. The 2017 Bill provides that the criteria and process for making an application to the EPA will be detailed in the regulations.

If passed, the amendments to the EP Act will lead to tighter controls on waste.

The Environment, Planning and Sustainability team at Cowell Clarke are experts in the regulation of waste under the EP Act. They have significant experience in helping companies develop waste policies to ensure that all personnel dealing with waste understand and implement the requirements of the EP Act and its policies.

If you have any questions about the impact of the 2017 Bill, would like assistance in preparing or reviewing your waste policies, or would like specific training on waste handling and disposal, please contact us.