Meeting our future infrastructure and service needs

To meet the challenge of developing a circular economy we will need to expand and modernise our waste and resource recovery infrastructure. This requires a strong pipeline of infrastructure investment to maintain and improve our capacity to collect, sort, process and dispose of waste.

To support this infrastructure pipeline, the NSW Government will:

  • work closely with local governments and industry to strategically plan for critical waste infrastructure, focussing on co-locating businesses in precincts that support circular economy and clean technology activities
  • help local governments to jointly procure waste services at scale to underpin investment in new infrastructure
  • review and update planning instruments to make it easier to develop waste and circular economy infrastructure.

Our plan

An analysis of material flows showed there is enough capacity for some types of recovery infrastructure. However, we will need additional investment in new or upgraded facilities between 2021 and 2030 to prevent future shortfalls.

Even if NSW significantly improves recycling performance, we will still need new capacity to manage waste. Our highest priority is to extend the life of our current landfills by reducing the volumes of waste we must manage, either through avoidance or recycling.

As we support the transition towards a circular economy, we must plan how we can safely manage our waste in the future, protecting our environment and the health of the community.

Recovering energy from waste can be a legitimate and necessary residual waste management option where it can deliver positive outcomes for the community and the environment and assist in lowering our carbon footprint and reducing the need for landfill.

We want to support energy recovery where it makes sense to do so and where it is used to manage residual waste, not as an alternative to recycling.

The NSW Energy from Waste Policy Statement sets out the policy framework and technical criteria that energy from waste facilities must meet. The policy has been updated to reflect the latest advice on air emissions standards from the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer and ensures NSW has the strictest air emission standards in the world where energy from waste is allowed.

The NSW Government is considering further strategic planning needs for energy from waste infrastructure to ensure such projects protect the environment and human health into the future, and maximise efficiencies for waste innovation, management, and energy recovery.

Due to the environmental and commercial complexity of waste and resource recovery facilities, the planning lead time is often close to 10 years.

Starting from 2021, the NSW Government will conduct a series of feasibility assessments and engage with the community, local government and proponents about the suite of infrastructure investment needed to help us manage our waste into the future.

We will take on a coordination role so that we can attract the right investment at the right time to help meet our capacity gaps. This will involve coordinating functions across government, such as investment attraction, planning, environmental licensing and grant funding.

We will be consulting on the design of a new service to facilitate local government joint procurement of waste services, including the collection and processing of waste from household bins. The aim is to make it easier for local councils to collaborate on waste service procurements to deliver good value for ratepayers and help to achieve better waste and recycling outcomes.

The NSW Government will fund the new joint procurement facilitation service. It will be voluntary for councils to participate and the service will provide access to expert commercial, legal and policy advice.

In its initial phase, the service will target major waste contracts for the Greater Sydney region to align them with critical infrastructure needs. In subsequent phases, we will broaden the service to regional councils.