Regulated stakeholders roadshow March to June 2022

We hosted forums for councils, licensees and other regulated stakeholders from March to June 2022.

We hosted 9 regulated stakeholder forums between March and June for more than 360 industry licensees and 137 councils. For the first time we invited pesticide, dangerous goods and dangerous goods transport, and radiation licensees.

The variety of locations provided a valuable opportunity for the EPA to meet face to face with a wide range of our regulated stakeholders. We listened to feedback, intent on understanding the needs and the key environmental issues our stakeholders are facing and discussed how we can provide support.

These forums also provided opportunities to create connections and learn how we can continue to collaborate.

At the start of each forum, the EPA Executive provided an update on a range of initiatives we have been working on over the last 18 months, from responding to major incidents affecting our stakeholders such as flood recoveries and disasters, to continued improvement in our regulatory approach through regulatory reforms.

A few initiatives we were proud to highlight were:

Some key areas of interest for our stakeholders were:

  • discussing the important role we all have in resource recovery and transitioning towards a circular economy
  • responding to incidents and severe weather events
  • our regulatory approach.
Regulated stakeholders roadshow, Port Macquarie 2022
Regulated stakeholders roadshow, Newcastle 2022


A summary of the key themes and common questions discussed, and where we are addressing stakeholder feedback and ideas are outlined below.

Connecting with councils and licensees is an important part of the way we operate. It allows us to identify areas where we can support our regulated community to improve environmental outcomes. We are committed to being service oriented and bringing community, government and industry together to solve problems, respond in a timely manner to requests and incidents, and communicating clearly and meaningfully. 

Our aim is to keep industry and government informed. We heard through these forums that using digital channels is an effective way to streamline communication. We use our website to provide key information and will ensure it is updated regularly. This includes information on incidents, ongoing programs, and consultation and engagement opportunities.

Our EPA Connect newsletter provides more general updates on major programs or initiatives that are happening across the EPA.

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In our forums we encouraged participants to let us know early if they’re identifying challenges, environmental risks or issues in their industries. It was encouraging to be part of open and honest conversations that provided opportunities for our Executive team to hear questions around our service, challenges presented during the pandemic, and support required.

There is strong interest in deep and frequent levels of engagement between industry, councils and other key stakeholders on a range of topics. These topics included new initiatives, technical and regulatory matters, and our strategic goals. We also provided an overview of our Digital Transformation Strategy which aims to improve our operating model, information efficiencies and communications processes. 

The importance of funding and grants to enable councils to deliver on key environmental programs along with a collaborative approach to find solutions to environmental challenges as they arise was raised by councils.

We are committed to having ongoing conversations with stakeholders and will continue to work with both councils and licensees on key issues that impact them. These forums are part of the renewed approach to provide opportunities for feedback, identifying challenges, and finding solutions. We will also provide clear messaging when funding is available to assist in delivery of key projects.

We listened to how councils and contractors look to the EPA for advice and support as they often feel they don't have the same scientific and technical expertise to navigate our guidelines, policies and legislation.

We have a new dedicated web page specifically for local government which includes information on:

  • what’s new and relevant to local government
  • upcoming training opportunities
  • available grants
  • useful resources and guides on key technical issues
  • links to relevant legislation and licensing guides.

Capability building through a variety of training approaches was an area of interest from forum attendees, particularly in relation to making training more accessible, training focussing on best practice, and training to support specific sector needs across NSW including regional areas.

We have taken this feedback on board and will continue to work closely with local government as partners and co-regulators towards environmental protection.

Education is a significant part of the work that we do, and we recognise the importance of assisting our stakeholders to understand the role of the EPA, our compliance requirements, and provide support for technical issues.

We have a new dedicated web page specifically for local government which includes information on:

  • what’s new and relevant to local government
  • upcoming training opportunities
  • available grants
  • useful resources and guides on key technical issues
  • links to relevant legislation and licensing guides.

Our Regulatory Strategy, which sets out the principles that guide our regulatory work, our goals and commitments, and how we regulate was released in 2021. At the forums, the Executive team discussed this along with our new Strategic Plan.

Stakeholders shared their views that they would like more help from the EPA on balancing and navigating regulation, policies and operations to achieve different environmental outcomes. We heard that ongoing engagement is valued by licensees and not just for compliance. Licensees advised that they benefit from knowing the compliance priorities of the EPA, so they can turn their attention to managing issues, updating procedures and navigating emerging issues.

We welcomed the support that forum attendees expressed around being an outcomes focussed regulator. We committed to providing councils early notification when we release new or updated policies.

We understand that the transition towards a circular economy presents both opportunities and challenges for us and our stakeholders. At the forums we talked through the issues together. A key topic of interest was market development and local manufacturing.

Tyres were singled out as a material of concern about how they will be handled as we transition to a circular economy.

The Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy and the Waste Delivery Plan highlights the NSW Government's commitment to reducing waste, emissions and harm to our environment, and boosting innovation to help drive the circular economy. To support this work, the Guide to Future Infrastructure Needs will help us strategically plan for the State’s waste infrastructure and investment needs. Our first priorities are making sure we have the right infrastructure in the right places to manage our residual, organic and plastic waste.

Read about our Circular Economy Policy.

Organic waste and the introduction of the food organics and garden organics (FOGO) collection services were popular topics across all of the forums. It’s clear the wider introduction of FOGO is a significant initiative for the EPA, our stakeholders and the community.

There was interest in how to manage new and existing waste service contracts and transportation costs in regional areas. We appreciated listening to the views around the need for processing infrastructure to support the growth, and the risks of contamination and strategies to reduce contamination.

We will continue adding new technical advice and guidance to our food organics and garden organics webpage and are restructuring the organics collection grants to be a collaborative approach where we can assist councils throughout the process. For example, helping access carbon credit units for new organics services, joint procurement expertise for collection and processing services and access to tested educational messages and free resources.

A position statement about what can and can’t go in a food or food and garden organics bin to clarify our existing regulatory position is available on our FOGO information for households webpage.

We anticipate policy certainty provided through the new Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy requirements for source separated organics collections for households and large food waste generating business will help drive investment in additional processing capacity. Some is already in the pipeline – with an announcement in April 2022 of funding awarded for an additional 300,000 tonnes of processing capacity. In the Greater Sydney area we will investigate the issue of transfer stations to facilitate more efficient collections and access to a greater range of processing facilities. 

Plastic and plastic waste was a key interest for councils and licensees particularly the phasing out of single-use plastic bags on 1 June 2022. These bans will prevent almost 2.7 billion items of plastic waste from entering our environment as litter or landfill over the next 20 years. We are running a range of initiatives to help increase awareness and knowledge about the bans. This includes consideration around technical specifications of items being phased out, markets for recycled plastic, alternatives to plastics, grant and funding opportunities, community education, procurement and event management.

We heard about the importance of community education and providing support to businesses and event managers, who will no longer be able to use single use plastics, as they make required changes to their operations.

The EPA is working with local government, peak bodies, community organisations and businesses in preparation for the second phase of the bans to commence in November 2022.

To support the next phase of the bans, we’re delivering both consumer and retail advertising campaigns in conjunction with the National Retail Association. The campaigns aim to not only raise awareness of the upcoming ban but also support our stakeholders to make the transition to suitable alternatives. The campaign and supporting engagement toolkit have social media assets and key messages that can be shared and our website is being updated with supporting technical information.

Find out more about the NSW Plastics Action Plan.

The management of and disposal of hazardous waste and asbestos are key areas of interest to stakeholders. 

We understand that the disposal of asbestos waste presents complex and unique problems. To address asbestos management and disposal, the EPA is considering options investigated under the Asbestos Waste Strategy 2019-21 to amend the waste regulation to exempt bonded asbestos waste from levy contributions, assessing the ability of waste infrastructure to handle increasing volumes of asbestos waste and dispose of it safely. We are also rolling out a state-wide asbestos awareness campaign, enhancing the resources available on and hosting online asbestos management training modules for council officers and landfill staff, developed by Local Government NSW.

Management, handling and disposal of contaminated site waste is acknowledged as an issue for regional councils due to the capacity of local facilities that can accept hazardous waste.  

Read more about our approach to manage asbestos waste.

Climate change continues to be a topic of interest. The EPA has acknowledged the significance of our changing climate through identifying it as a key focus area in our Strategic Plan.

We are currently drafting an EPA climate change policy and action plan and look forward to getting stakeholder feedback during our consultation. We are focussed on not only preventing harm, but also acting to restore and enhance the environment in our broader role that’s beyond environmental compliance.

The EPA is already leading some programs under the Net Zero Plan Stage 1, including supporting the goal of achieving net zero emissions from organic waste by 2030.

Our actions in combatting climate change requires strategic planning and responses by all levels of government, industry, business and communities. We’re taking steps to increase the important role we play, both in supporting industry to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and ensuring we are all more resilient to climate change risks and impacts.

Stakeholders were interested to understand how the EPA works with other state authorities to administer disaster and resilience funding. The EPA is actively involved with incidents and emergencies at both the local and state level. We are represented on the State Emergency Management Committee that provides leadership, direction and advice for strategic and operational emergency management in NSW. The committee is made up of representatives from emergency services and other government agencies.

We acknowledged that there are currently multiple state funding and grant processes for business and local government which is challenging for grantees to manage. We understand that the system is not perfect, and a coordination piece of work is currently being managed by Service NSW to address blockages and duplication.

At the forums we provided an update on what we’re doing to assist in flood and disaster recovery across NSW and our role in a ‘whole of government approach’. The recent large warehouse fire in Newcastle and joint-agency recovery efforts were discussed.

Support and training relating to roles and functions in Pollution Incident Response Management Plans was discussed. These plans are plans required by our licensed community in relation to emergencies. We heard there was interest in preparing for and learning from recent weather events to adapt and be ready for the unexpected. The preparation of case studies as part of training opportunities will be explored.

Reporting was discussed with stakeholders enquiring about procedures and processes. We heard that finding a balance between meeting the requirements around immediate notification and dealing with incidents was important.

Read  more

The resource recovery discussions were some of the most diverse in the forums, reflecting the breadth of this work and stakeholder interest. There was interest in the independent review of the resource recovery framework and the recovered fines and orders and exemptions were also of interest to our stakeholders.

We heard questions around ensuring compliance with new resource recovery orders and exemptions for recovered fines and recovered soils.

We explained that to improve the quality of recovered fines, our focus will be on education to raise awareness about the need to exclude contaminants like asbestos from skip bins.

We will also increase monitoring and work closely with industry to improve compliance with the existing rules and ensure companies understand and meet their obligations, including managing asbestos.

The EPA is committed to protecting the environment and reducing the risks to human health, taking action to reduce the harmful impact of waste and driving behaviours that create a circular economy. If organisations and individuals do the wrong thing they will be held to account.

As part of the approach we will investigate potential grant programs under the Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041 to help improve source separation to provide better quality recovered materials and improve industry performance.

We appreciated hearing many stakeholders were interested in our role in planning matters. Although the EPA does not issue planning approvals, we provide advice to the Department of Planning and Environment on strategic land use planning processes, and proposals that require an environment protection licence or for which we are the appropriate regulatory authority.

A range of key topics and issues were discussed including challenges and standardisation across agencies.  

We recognise the complex range of planning matters and balancing population growth. We aim for licence conditions to become more focussed on outcomes by providing opportunities to drive positive change and help stakeholders’ operations.

We’ve identified interest in how we could further support local government in training and capability. We will continue to share our technical knowledge, provide advice, education and support improvements to assessment processes.

Increasing knowledge and capability building, alerts and reporting was discussed including interest in how the EPA could help transporters gain clearer guidance and support through training to increase compliance and competency.

There was some interest in more audits for small-to-medium transport companies as an education tool for consignor/loaders. Guidance around transport of radioactive waste especially where other dangerous goods classes are involved was another key area for further education and training. Compliance was discussed in relation to transportation when there are roadworks and also the parking of dangerous good vehicles.

We have a standard set of licence conditions for dangerous goods driver and vehicle licences. We encourage transporters who are uncertain about how to apply the rules for dangerous goods transport in NSW to contact us for clarification.

We maintain an active program of providing dangerous goods guidance, both on our website and directly providing technical advice. We will consider how we can provide improved guidance for scenarios where other materials such as radioactive waste, or settings such as healthcare, are involved.

Training and assessments and support for achieving compliance were key areas of discussion during the forums. The EPA regulates the pest control industry and runs campaigns to provide education on safe pest control and spraying technics. 

In June 2022, timber pest management technician licences started to be phased in. This licence requires that technicians have the nationally recognised training needed to ensure safe and correct use of pesticides used to control termites and other timber pests. To get a timber pest management technician licence, an extra nationally recognised qualification in the control of timber pests is required in addition to core training. Information about the timber pest management licence can be found at the EPA’s pesticide licensing webpage – click on timber pest management technician licence including training requirements.

Other ideas covered included improving screening of pesticides in our waterways e.g. by partnering with Water NSW for ambient monitoring.

During the forums, our stakeholders in the radiation field discussed specific topics including radiation waste storage in hospitals, the disposal of radioactive waste and industry accreditation for radiation safety trainers. There was interest in radiation safety training, individual work practice safety and seeing more harmonisation of state and territory laws for radiation licences.

The EPA regulates the use, sales, disposal and clean-up of radioactive substances and apparatus. We administer the Radiation Control Act 1990 (the Act) and Radiation Control Regulation 2013.

Read information on radiation user and management licences and radiation publications.

Participants at Regulated stakeholders roadshow, Newcastle 2022