The EPA held an information webinar in February on Waste and Resource Recovery Determinations – for reducing unnecessary regulatory barriers for recycling in Victoria. This is to support a new recycling system and build a  circular economy for the state. The aim of the EPA, along with Recycling Victoria, is how wastes can be recovered under the new waste framework, to enable reuse of materials and create products.

Together with the normal waste duties, the proposed regulations are intended to manage risks to human health and the environment, and to support and encourage waste and resource recovery. As with the other webinar in January, based on the new Environment Protection Act, it was a lot to take in and it did not even include all types of waste.

The new buzz words to comprehend in the regulations are: Declarations of Use and Determinations Declaration of Use (DoU) is how a waste material can be used, and Determinations set out specifications and conditions where a waste can be lawfully received – without requiring permission or a DoU, but still subject to waste duties.

While the classification of particular waste focused on proposing four initial determinations for organics, manure, fill material and aggregates, contaminated soils was not included, which was the basis of some questioning due to its lawful use, or otherwise, as a fill material.

There is a lot going on in Latrobe Valley where industry has been sited, or is engaged in processes, that have contaminated the soil or have contaminated waste stored on site that could be recycled. Coal ash ponds are major areas of concern associated with each power station that could form the basis of a recycled product, but there are also sites in the Latrobe Valley that have fill which is already leaching into  waterways.

Additionally, the reuse of fill (from where exactly it is not clearly stated) for the rehabilitation process of mines could have unintended  consequences for the environment and human health.

Feedback had been sought, via a survey for the four types of wastes noted, through the Engage Victoria website which was due by 5 March. It will be of benefit for our region to keep a cautious eye on this undertaking, as well as to push the EPA to start a priority focus on contaminated waste.

First Published in Yallourn North Connection