Proposed Changes to the resource Recovery Orders and Exemption for Recovered Fines and Soils by the NSW EPA

Proposed Changes to the resource Recovery Orders and Exemption for Recovered Fines and Soils by the NSW EPA

There are some important set of changes coming to the Resource Recovery Orders and Exemptions (RROEs) that the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) intends to implement this year. If implemented as currently proposed, these changes will lead to a material increase in the cost of waste management and recycling services for construction and demolition (C&D) waste in New South Wales.
 
The EPA’s changes are significant and will impact waste services charges. 
 
What are recovered fines?
Recovered fines are a mix of soil, clay, crushed concrete, aggregate, broken bricks and glass that remain following the processing of C&D waste. Recovered fines are highly recoverable and are currently recycled and regularly reused in construction as an alternative fill or building substrate.
 
What is changing?
The EPA is revoking the existing RROE’s for recovered fines and replacing them with RROEs. The proposed new RROEs contain significantly more onerous sampling and testing requirements, increase the number of chemicals required to be tested for, and reduce the allowable levels of certain chemicals.
 
Why is the EPA making these changes?
The EPA’s view is that recovered fines potentially contain contaminants potentially harmful to human health, such as PFAS, plastic, chemicals and asbestos. They have also identified a number of cases of non-compliance by market participants (not BINGO). The EPA believes the changes are necessary to reduce the risk to human health.
 
Are these changes necessary?
While BINGO acknowledges the EPA’s objectives, we believe they can be achieved in other ways. If properly enforced, the existing RROE’s can ensure that recovered fines will not cause any material risk to human health when used in its most common applications, such as road base.  
 
What does this change mean to me?
Increased costs - In order to cover the costs of the EPA’s changes, BINGO will need to change its pricing structure on the basis that increased volumes of material will need to be landfilled. Lower recycling rates – the changes will also mean an increase in the volume of material that needs to be disposed of to landfill. This material is currently recovered, recycled and reused. This will mean your recovery/recycling rates will drop.

When are these changes taking place?
The changes were originally going to be effective from 1 April 2022. Pushback from the waste and recycling industry has led to the EPA advising that the changes will not be implemented before 1 July 2022.

What can you do?
Contact the EPA directly at waste.exemptions@epa.nsw.gov.au or at https://yoursay.epa.nsw.gov.au/recovered-soil-order-exemption to let them know how these changes are likely to impact you.

Contact the waste industry’s leading industry associations, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association Australia and Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW for further information. 

If you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact us.

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