Buying and using recycled organics products

Compost products recycled from food and garden waste can improve soil and plant health, while also reducing pressure on the environment by keeping these materials out of landfill. The EPA regulates the production and use of recycled organics products to protect community health and the environment. The EPA also supports initiatives to improve their quality.

Recycled organics products are made from a range of organics material including plants, food, wood and other agricultural organics.

Boosting the quality of recycled organics

The EPA's Organics market development grants provide $3 million to build and expand markets for recycled organics. An additional $1.5 million supports industry compliance to ensure products meet buyer expectations of quality and safety; and education for the community, so people put the right thing in the bin at the kerbside and reduce contamination risks. 

When you use recycled organics products

When you buy recycled organics, choose products that are fit for purpose and comply with all the relevant regulations and conditions required to put them onto the land.

Quality compost can

  • improve soil structure and the condition of tilled soil, especially with respect to suitability for sowing seeds
  • conserve soil moisture and improve water infiltration
  • increase soil nutrient and water-holding capacity
  • keep soil temperatures more constant: cooler in summer and warmer at night
  • improve soil health by increasing microbial activity
  • suppress some soil-borne diseases
  • promote and maintain soil nutrients and provide slow-release nutrients
  • reduce the need for fertilisers and pesticides
  • improve root and plant growth

Types of recycled organics products

Recycled organics products are designed for specific uses. Some typical examples of products containing recycled organics include

  • mulch
  • soil conditioner
  • compost
  • potting mix
  • topsoil
  • woodchips

For the best results for soil, plant, animal and human health select the correct product for your specific use.

Comply with rules when using recycled organics on land

In NSW regulatory controls restrict the application of recycled wastes to land, to ensure human and animal health and the environment are protected.

However, under its resource recovery exemptions, the EPA allows compost and other commonly recycled organics to be put on the land if they are made in a certain way, in accordance with specified conditions. This may include limits on application rates or soil conditions.

These resource recovery exemptions allow for this re-use of recycled organics where it is genuine, beneficial, fit-for-purpose and poses no harm to the environment and human health.

Other agencies in NSW also regulate products put on land, including the Department of Primary Industries (DPI). Its role is to manage biosecurity and other risks to soil, crop and animal health. The EPA and DPI work closely together to keep the NSW environment and agricultural industries safe from introduced risk.

Before you apply recycled organics to land

  • Carefully check compliance with the relevant resource recovery exemption to ensure you are exempt from requirements of the regulatory framework. 

Resource recovery exemption for compost

The resource recovery exemption for compost (PDF 201KB) contains conditions for the person applying the product to land, including ensuring it meets the requirements set out in the resource recovery order for compost (PDF 130KB), and applying it in a timely manner.

Note that the resource recovery exemption for organics outputs derived from mixed waste (PDF 92KB) is more restrictive. It limits use to mine site rehabilitation, plantation forestry, and non-contact or broad-acre agriculture.

Page last updated