Reforming waste management
South Australia has introduced many waste management reforms over the past decade that have successfully promoted resource recovery in our state and established our reputation as a leader in this field.
The waste and resource recovery sector has grown into an economically significant part of our economy. Further growth, including significant job creation, has been identified as possible with the next series of modernised regulatory and policy settings.
The South Australian Government is seeking to help realise the economic potential from innovation in waste and resource recovery technologies while at the same time protecting our environment. It is committed to providing the right settings to attract investment, drive innovation and create jobs.
Through its compliance efforts and reform processes, the EPA is committed to establishing a robust regulatory environment to support the sustainable operation of the waste and resource recovery industry by seeking to:
- minimise the risk of environmental harm occurring
- support the highest and best, safe available use of secondary materials in accordance with the waste management hierarchy
- provide more certainty and fairness for lawful operators, promoting investment, innovation and growth of the sector
- stamp out illegal operators
- obtain levy revenue due to the South Australian Government.
To achieve these outcomes, the EPA is pursuing an extensive waste reform program to achieve sound regulation that supports fair and equitable competition, stability, growth and innovation in the sector.
Throughout the reform process, the EPA has been working closely with key stakeholders, including:
- In March 2015, a Waste Summit was convened by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation to provide an update on the state of the waste and resource recovery industry and allow discussion on key issues.
- In August–October 2015, a Discussion Paper, Reforming waste management – creating certainty for an industry to grow, was released for consultation, recognising the key drivers influencing waste management and seeking views on a broad mix of potential reform mechanisms.
- between April–November 2016, presentations on Waste Reform priorities
- In September 2016, a Stakeholder Workshop was conducted regarding a range of reforms at the Waste SA Conference.
Beyond these broad activities, direct engagement has been occurring and continues via regular meetings of the EPA Chief Executive’s Waste Reform High-Level Advisory Group and the complementary WMAA Industry Reference Group.
Changes to the waste levy to promote further resource recovery in our state have been pursued.
Feedback received on the Discussion paper and from the EPA’s industry stakeholder groups, along with EPA compliance experience, was used to help identify further initial priorities.
Proposed new or amended legislation
- Amendment of the Environment Protection Act 1993 – the Waste Reform Bill
Amendments to the Act are proposed to provide the necessary legislative underpinning for the EPA to be able to better tackle illegal dumping and achieve a suite of waste reforms. These amendments are considered the necessary first legislative step to empower the EPA to address the most pressing issues.
Potential changes to the Act were introduced in section 6 of the initial Discussion paper. Feedback received on the Discussion Paper helped inform preparation of draft legislation.
An Explanatory Paper and draft Bill to amend the Act were formally released from 22 September–18 November 2016.
Across this time, the EPA conducted a workshop at the Waste SA Conference and held consultation forums on the draft Bill in metropolitan Adelaide and six regional areas: Port Augusta, Clare, Mount Gambier, Karoonda, Wudinna and Mannum. Staff were also available at several key conferences and forums held during the consultation period and met directly with several interested groups. Eighteen written submissions were subsequently received.
Views expressed on the draft Bill have been used to assist in development of the final Bill.
Broader comments on the waste reform program received from the Bill consultation process are helping inform other priority reforms.
- Introduction of mass balance reporting
- Introduction of an amended manner of collection of levy at landfills
- Exploration of the introduction of an upfront levy liability
- Exploration of new legislative and policy measures that will keep South Australia as a resource recovery leader
- Exploration of expanded waste transporter licensing
Proposed policy and administrative changes
- Implementation of effective stockpiling controls
- Effective recovery of illegally obtained economic benefits
- Better management of waste soils and waste derived materials
- Development of policy guidance for Energy from Waste facilities
- Introduction of better options for managing particular problematic wastes
- Seeking to influence government procurement processes
Further reforms may be pursued subsequent to these changes.