EPA statement on recovered soil fines

The NSW Environment Protect Authority (EPA) is aware of a protest in Sydney today about proposed changes to the regulation of recovered fines.

Recovered fines are the residues left in skip bins after all recyclable material has been removed. These are currently used as a soil or sand substitute.

EPA Executive Director Regulatory Practice & Environmental Solutions David Fowler said the regulation changes are needed because recent compliance testing by the EPA found that over 50 per cent of facilities were producing recovered fines that contained asbestos, plastics and other contaminants.

“That presents an unacceptable risk to people and the environment,” Mr Fowler said.

“These changes are aimed at ensuring that recovered fines are fit-for-purpose in terms of their quality. The community needs to be confident that their landscaping products are safe to ensure a trusted and sustainable recycling industry.”

The EPA has been consulting widely with industry, including skip bin operators and the construction sector on proposed changes. Careful consideration will be given to all submissions received during the consultation.

Some of the proposed changes include:

  • The need for record keeping, notification, quality control and quality assurance requirements.
  • Setting out requirements for sampling and testing for a range of chemicals, including asbestos before they are approved for public use, which increases community safety.

“We understand that the industry is concerned about these changes, which is why we have been openly consulting for months.

“Actions that can be taken to minimise costs to industry will be examined, while still ensuring that recovered fines do not pose a risk of harm to the environment or the community.”

It should be noted that the EPA does not set charges for skip bins – they are set by individual operators.

The EPA has stated it will not revoke and remake recovered fines orders and exemptions before 1 July 2022, and has invited industry to advise of any transitional arrangements that should be considered.