Oil Product Stewardship Scheme Independent Review Released

The Federal Government recently released the latest independent review of the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000.

The aim of the Scheme is to encourage the environmentally sustainable management, recycling and re-use of used oil in Australia.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read said the Scheme had been in place for 21 years and was an excellent success story for product stewardship.

“The Scheme has encouraged producers to take responsibility for their waste, has encouraged investment in recycling infrastructure, and created jobs, boosting the economy and importantly, protecting the environment.”

Ms Read said the review made three recommendations:

  1. Enable PSO Scheme benefits to change with oil prices, to insulate oil recyclers against fluctuations in crude oil prices and thereby support the financial sustainability of the PSO Scheme.
  2. Increase the levy to address the deficit
  3. Provide more transparency and data concerning the operation of the PSO scheme

“NWRIC supports the need to increase the levy to 20 cpl to address the current deficit and also supports the need for more transparency and data regarding the operation of the PSO Scheme, particularly around levies and the benefits being paid,” said Ms Read.

However, NWRIC considers linking the Scheme benefits to changes in oil prices as problematic given the fluctuating prices, rather the fixed benefit rates should be adjusted closer to the 2021 value, and then indexed to CPI annually thereafter.

“Linking base oil with crude oil through a fluctuating market-based mechanism may result in unintended consequences including incentivising the burning of waste oil rather than re-refining it.

“Along with providing less certainty for industry investment”.

Ms Read said regular reviews of the Scheme were important.

“We need to ensure the Scheme is resilient and around for the long term because it is truly delivering a circular economy.

“We look forward to the government’s formal response to the independent review,” Ms Read said.

The full report can be found here


South Australian parliamentary inquiry into PFAS

The Parliament of South Australia’s Environment, Resources and Development Committee has invited submissions to its inquiry into PFAS-contaminated waste disposal.

The inquiry, initiated in May this year, will investigate and report on the appropriate and safe disposal of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) contaminated waste in South Australia and is accepting submissions until 6 October 2021.

For more information about the inquiry and to make a submission visit the Committee website.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read said it was important that issues around disposal of PFAS were being addressed but the real focus needs to be the phasing out of these hazardous chemicals.

“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.

“These emerging contaminants pose one of the biggest challenges for the waste and resource recovery sector and yet governments across all jurisdictions have been slow to develop consistent and pragmatic regulatory responses on how to manage these chemicals which are persistent and widespread in the environment.

“NWRIC is keen to see the phasing out of PFAS in products and materials sooner rather than later to help ensure cleaner waste streams and better recovery of materials,” Ms Read said.

Ms Read said concerns around PFAS were also being addressed in other states.

“In Tasmania, the Environment Protection Authority has released a progress report on its PFAS Action Plan which was first released in October 2018 and in Victoria, the Victorian Ombudsman will investigate the state EPA’s handling of decisions on suitable disposal sites for spoil from the West Gate Tunnel project, which contains low levels of PFAS,” Ms Read said.


Recycler manufacturer joint ventures way of the future to drive greater resource recovery

The MOU between Pact Group, Cleanaway, Asahi Beverages and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners to form a joint venture to build and operate a new PET recycling facility demonstrates the importance of the supply chain working together.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read commended the joint venture, saying that it was the way of the future.

“This joint venture highlights how the supply chain can work together to drive the circular economy and help reach the target of 80% resource recovery by 2030.

“In this case we are seeing a scenario that delivers the right scale to support the substantial investment required to process materials here in Australia rather than exporting them.

“It also represents an appropriate sharing of risk and reward across the supply chain and the opportunity for each party to meet their own sustainability goals.

“The other real beneficiary is the environment, with the proposed new facility expected to process enough plastic bottles each year to produce more than 20,000 tonnes of new recycled PET bottles and food packaging, keeping plastic out of landfill,” Ms Read said.

Click here for more detail on the joint venture


Victorian Waste to Energy Framework Update

Consultation on Victoria’s Waste to Energy Framework has concluded and the final framework is being designed by the Department of Land Environment and Water Protection (DLEWP).

All submissions provided through the consultation process are currently being considered and used by DLEWP to inform the design of the final waste to energy framework. This final framework will be the basis for incorporating the waste to energy cap into the waste and recycling Act being developed by the Victorian Government.

The government’s objective of the waste to energy framework is to encourage investment that supports diversion of residual waste from landfill, while avoiding risks to recycling outcomes in the future.

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) does not believe a market-based approach such as the proposed cap is necessary to achieve this outcome.

Rather, NWRIC considers that the current residual waste definitions in the consultation paper for municipal solid waste (MSW) i.e. waste residual MSW would need to be collected through a three bin or service kerbside collection system that separates commingled recyclables and organic waste before it can be used as a feedstock and for commercial and industrial (C&I) and construction and demolition (C&D) waste, is all that is required to avoid risks to future recycling outcomes.

Having a cap will not encourage industry to invest in waste to energy solutions or enable Victoria to reach its resource recovery goals. Rather a cap will create unnecessary administrative burden on government, the industry, and the community.

It would be far more appropriate for government to invest these resources into making it easier for the community and businesses to recycle better by scaling up its investment in statewide recycling education, improving community access to recycling and organic services, as well as require manufacturers, brands and the packaging industry to only use materials that are recyclable, compostable or reusable and to set minimum recycled content levels in all packaging types.

“Waste to energy is an important part of the waste hierarchy and is more than just diverting waste from landfill. It’s also a well proven technology that generates greenhouse gas savings, provides renewable energy back to the grid, as well as generating economic and employment opportunities for the community,” Ms Read said.