Waste & Recycling
In administering the Environment Protection Act 1993, the EPA must seek to implement the Objects of the Act. In relation to waste management, these include:
- Promote the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
- Protect, restore and enhance the quality of the environment.
- Regulate all aspects of waste management, and activities and products that cause environmental harm through the production of waste (see what and why we regulate).
- Apply the waste management hierarchy.
- Promote the circulation of materials or circular economy
- Support a strong market for recovered resources.
Waste management hierarchy
The EPA seeks to implement the waste management hierarchy, which prioritises various waste management approaches.
Under the hierarchy, avoiding the waste generation is most preferable. Disposal of waste is the least preferable. Disposal should therefore only occur where other waste management options, such as recycling, are not possible.
In applying the waste management hierarchy and protecting the environment, the EPA seeks to:
- Promote the best and safest use of recovered resources, and
- Reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and ending up in our environment.
A circular economy is a self-sustaining system which aims to keep materials in use, or ‘circulating’, for as long as possible. It extracts the maximum value from materials while in use, then recovers and reuses them in other forms.
The EPA supports the development of a circular economy in South Australia. The EPA’s policies actively promote the circulation of materials and a strong resource recovery market.
What is waste
The Environment Protection Act 1993 (EP Act) defines waste as:
... any discarded, rejected, abandoned, unwanted or surplus matter, whether or not intended for sale or for recycling, reprocessing, recovery or purification by a separate operation from that which produced the matter ...
The Waste definitions guideline reflects the above definition and includes a range of definitions of specific wastes and waste-related terminology.
The status of a material as a waste (which includes by-products or leftover surplus materials) is determined at its place of generation and is not dependent on:
- it being wanted
- it being intended or capable of being reused, recycled or recovered
- it having value or able to be sold or traded
- the recipient asserting that it is a resource.
When waste ceases to be waste
Under the Environment Protection Waste to Resources Policy 2010, waste-derived material ceases to be a waste when:
- it constitutes a product that meets EPA waste definitions or
- if there is no specification or standard applies, it constitutes a product that is ready and intended for imminent use without the need for further treatment to prevent any environmental harm.
Ready and intended for imminent use means that, upon request, you can demonstrate to the EPA, among other things, that:
- there is an immediate market for the recovered material
- the recovered material and its use complies with all relevant state and federal legislation including regulations and policies made under relevant laws, Australian Standards, market or engineering specifications
- where relevant, testing by a suitably qualified person demonstrates that:
- that environmental harm, including harm to human health, will not result from the storage, transport and use of the recovered material, and
- that the recovered material is suitable for its intended use.
The EPA administers the following legislation in relation to waste management:
- Environment Protection Act 1993
- Environment Protection Regulations 2009
- Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010 (Waste to Resources EPP)
- Plastic Shopping Bags (Waste Avoidance) Act 2008
- Environment Protection (Movement of Controlled Waste) Policy 2014
- Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Policy 2012 (Used Packaging EPP)
In addition, the EPA has specific powers in relation to conditions of approval for activities that require approval under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016.
The EPA also provides support and advice to local government in administering the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016.