Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Waste and recycling

Changes to the 2014 waste regulation

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has tightened regulations to improve the way waste is managed in NSW. Key changes include new threholds for environment protection licences, a new proximity principle for waste transport, and reforms to the waste levy system. The changes will improve the EPA’s ability to protect human health and the environment and pave the way for a modern and fair waste industry.

Information on the main changes to the waste regulation and commencement dates of these changes are outlined in the video, brochure and fact sheets below.

Brochure explaining the changes to NSW waste regulations (PDF 286KB)

Environment protection licences – new thresholds

The EPA is lowering the threshold for the amount of waste a facility can store or process before it must hold an environment protection licence. If your facility is now required to hold a licence, you have a nine-month transition period from 1 November 2014 to obtain it. Facilities affected by these changes must hold a licence by 1 August 2015. More information on licensing and help in determining whether you require a licence can be found in the Guide to licensing.

Waste levy changes for resource recovery facilities

Under reforms to the waste levy system, from 1 August 2015, a wider range of facilities will be liable for the levy, including those that store, recover, recycle or process waste in the regulated area. This liability is extinguished when recyclers send waste off-site for lawful reuse, processing or disposal.  These facilities will only have to pay the levy if waste is stockpiled on that site for more than 12 months or if more waste is stored than is legally allowed.

For more information go to the Changes to the waste levy framework - Frequently Asked Questions.

New weighbridge requirements

If your facility recovers, recycles, processes or stores waste and is liable for the waste levy, you are required to install a weighbridge by 1 February 2016 to accurately record waste movements. Development or building approvals might be required before you can install a weighbridge. See the `New requirements for weighbridges' fact sheet above for more information.

You may be eligible for up to $75,000 from the NSW Government to cover the costs of installing a new weighbridge under the Waste Less, Recycle More Infrastructure grants.

New reporting requirements

The rules have changed for who needs to report annually to the EPA. From 1 August 2015 all scheduled waste facilities which are not liable for the waste levy will be required to provide the EPA with an annual report on the amount and type of waste that has been processed, stored, recycled and disposed of for that year. This will be collected through an online reporting tool.

New limits on waste transport distances

Changes to the waste regulation make it an offence to dispose of waste more than 150 kilometres from where it is generated (the proximity principle). If there is no disposal facility within 150 kilometres, waste must go to one of the two nearest lawful disposal facilities. Different rules apply for tracking high-risk wastes. Breaches can lead to penalty notices and court convictions.

Waste proximity diagram

New interstate tracking for all waste

From 1 March 2015 the transport of more than 10 tonnes of any waste generated from the Metropolitan Levy Area to another state or territory for disposal, recovery or reuse, must be tracked using the EPA’s online waste tracking system (limited exceptions apply). This will provide the EPA with robust data on interstate waste transport, which is essential for setting and evaluating NSW's recycling and resource recovery targets and understanding waste disposal trends.

Monitoring asbestos and waste tyres

The EPA has developed an online system called WasteLocate to ensure asbestos and waste tyres are managed lawfully in NSW. Using this system will fulfill the legal obligations on generators and transporters of these materials to track their movement in accordance with the Waste Regulation.

WasteLocate uses QR2id codes accessible through mobile devices to monitor the movement of asbestos and waste tyres from place of generation to a lawful receiving facility. The EPA is completing user testing on the system and will be rolling it out across NSW in the coming months.  

Improved systems for immobilisation and resource recovery exemptions

The EPA has improved the format of its systems for immobilisation of high-risk contaminants and resource recovery exemptions. The current, two-document format for resource recovery orders and exemptions commenced in November 2014, replacing the former 'resource recovery exemption system'.

Land pollution offence

The new law now lists wastes that are automatically deemed to be land pollution. Penalties of up to $1 million for corporations and $250,000 for individuals are in place for those found guilty of dumping.  The changes to the regulation also provide a defence against a land pollution charge for unlicensed landfills, if those facilities maintain certain minimum standards.

More information

Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014

Page last updated: 14 August 2015