SA's Recycling Efforts Boosted by Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill 2017

Thursday 26 October 2017 @ 10.21 a.m. | Legal Research | Trade & Commerce

The Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill 2017 (the Bill) was passed through the SA Legislative Council and introduced into the SA Legislative Assembly on 19 October 2017. In introducing the Bill in August 2017 the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, the Honourable IK Hunter (the Minister) said, that the Bill was intended to ". . . provide the necessary underpinning to enable the Environment Protection Authority to implement important waste reforms". These reforms include a ". . . suite of staged measures that will enhance competition, provide stability to the waste and resource recovery sector, facilitate the sector's expansion, and encourage innovation."

Background

The proposed legislation derives from a fairly lengthy period of consultation and drafting, starting in March 2015 when the Minister, convened the SA 2015 Waste Summit which was jointly hosted by the Environment Protection Authority (the EPA) and Zero Waste SA as one part of a stakeholder and engagement program regarding the regulatory direction for the waste and resource recovery industry. As a result of the Summit, the discussion paper "Reforming waste management – creating certainty for an industry to grow" was released publicly in August 2015 seeking consultation. 

The paper discussed matters identified by the waste and resource recovery industry as being in need regulatory changes and suggested options to address those matters. Among the matters identified were:

  • static or growing stockpiles
  • waste promoted as "product" and issues around ensuring environmental risks were reliably tested
  • the potential re-use of "fill materials" ending up at landfill due to development pressures
  • the need to deal with certain problematic wastes; and
  • illegal dumping.

The above was followed by a draft Waste Reform Bill to address the matters raised and to also provide support for growth opportunities in resource recovery area in South Australia. Subsequently the draft Bill was developed into a Bill and introduced into the SA Legislative Council in August 2017. 

Key Features of the Final Bill

In terms of overall objectives, the Minister states in his second reading speech that:

"The state government wants to unlock future potential and drive innovation in the sector with targeted and effective changes to the Environment Protection Act 1993. We seek to continue to lead the way in demonstrating that we can both protect our environment and support businessand job growth."

One of the key aspects of the final Bill are the provision of explicit powers to enable the regulation of material flow and stockpiling through amendments to the "objects" provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA) and new powers regarding stockpiling conditions to support the legitimate resource recovery sector. Further, support is provided by improved and "proportionate powers" for tackling breaches of licence conditions and expansion of the circumstances when financial assurances can be used (including insurance) to protect against environmental, abandonment and distortion risks in the waste sector while supporting innovation.

Additionally, the Bill will introduce a process enabling assessment of materials as "approved recovered resources" and changed evidence requirements about waste to support innovative and safe resource recovery.

The Bill also strengthen the EPA's ability to:

  • prosecute illegal dumping by strengthening the responsibility on car owners for dumping from their vehicle, 
  • enable the use of tracking devices, 
  • expand EPA authorised officer powers to enter certain premises and mark materials that are likely to be illegally dumped; and 
  • improve monitoring of waste and related material movements.

What's Next

The SA Parliament is not due to sit until the end of the month (31 October 2017). The Bill has passed one house, the Legislative Council, without amendment and it is not expected to encounter any delays in getting passed by the Legislative Assembly.

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

Sources:

Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill 2017 [SA] second reading speech and other supporting material as reported in the TimeBase LawOne Service.

Waste management reforms proposed for South Australia (Clayton Utz on the draft Bill 20/10/2016)

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