PFAS contamination and its management – Masterclass

 In response to managing the impacts of PFAS a National Environment Management Plan (NEPM) has been developed jointly by all jurisdictions.  The Heads of EPAs agreed to the latest version in October 2019 and Environment Ministers endorsed it in 2020.

The NEMP for PFAS establishes a practical basis for nationally consistent environmental guidance and standards for managing PFAS contamination. It represents a how-to guide for the investigation and management of PFAS contamination and waste management.

PFAS are emerging contaminants which pose one of the biggest challenges for the waste and resource recovery sector while governments continue to develop their regulatory response on how to manage these chemicals which are persistent and widespread in the environment.

PFAS is an abbreviation for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. They are manufactured chemicals which have been used for more than 50 years. PFAS make products non-stick, water repellent, and fire, weather and stain resistant.

In Australia, PFAS have been used for a long time in a wide range of consumer products (e.g. carpets, clothes and paper) and industrial applications, including certain firefighting foams.

PFAS have contaminated soils, surface and ground water and are present in waste streams, including at landfills and wastewater treatment facilities, and more broadly in the environment.

According to the PFAS NEMP, the presence of PFAS in the environment does not necessarily constitute an unacceptable human health or environmental risk. Rather, risk depends on a range of factors including PFAS compounds present, PFAS leachability and concentration, degree of exposure, types of receptors exposed, land use, environmental values present, level of environmental protection, potential for bioaccumulation, and environmental media in which the contamination occurs.

To learn more about the challenges of managing PFAS and the regulatory responses of states and territories, WRIQ has partnered with law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth to host a masterclass on the current and emerging issues around PFAS including the regulatory response in Australia.

The masterclass will include:

  • An overview of PFAS chemicals and their unique characteristics
  • A summary of the developing regulatory responses in Australia and litigation in Australia and internationally
  • A recap on the evolution of the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan as the first harmonised guidance to PFAS management across the country
  • An overview on issues and challenges associated with managing PFAS impacted wastes on the ground – sampling and assessment, categorisation, transport and waste tracking
  • Issues encountered by landfills in accepting PFAS impacted waste and leachate management
  • An industry snapshot about the treatment options for PFAS impacted waste

To find out more and register for the PFAS Masterclass click here


Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence officially launched

The Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence was officially launched by The Hon Sussan Ley MP, the Minister for the Environment, and the Hon Trevor Evans MP, the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management in Parliament House, Canberra on Monday.

The Centre of Excellence aims for the wide-scale adoption of product and material stewardship principles by businesses to reduce waste generation and create positive environmental and social outcomes.

National Waste and Resource Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO and Centre of Excellence Director, Rose Read, said the Australian Government was showing immense leadership in fostering and supporting product stewardship and supporting businesses to thrive and do more.

“By strengthening product stewardship legislation in the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020, providing $20 million through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund, and through the enthusiasm from Minister Ley and Assistant Minister Evans, businesses are stepping up.

“The Centre’s role will be to support and mentor businesses to become better product stewards by providing practical guidance, decision-making tools, training and development opportunities such as masterclasses for executives, webinars and one on one mentoring.

“The Centre will also be working closely with and providing objective and independent advice to the Australian Government and all jurisdictions on the effectiveness of product stewardship across Australia and priority areas for action.

“This is a great opportunity for recyclers to work with manufacturers and retailers and I encourage members to join the Centre’s Product Stewardship Network,” said Ms Read.

Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence Media Release

Ministers Ley & Evans Media Release