Resource Recovery Exemptions in NSW, Australia: Initiatives, Problems and the Need for Waste Reform

Ahamed (DP Senior Associate and Sydney Environmental Manager) delivered a
virtual presentation at the 2021 Crete International Conference on Industrial
and Hazardous Waste Management.

This conference is an event that spreads existing and new developments in the broad field of industrial waste. It was a gathering of exceptional scientists and specialists from more than 50 different countries of the world, who professionally understand the need to cooperate and work together to face common challenges, waste management being one of those challenges.

The presentation discussed the paper that was authored by members of DP’s environmental team including Mike Nash, Paul Gorman, Joel James-Hall, Paula Maurici and Nizam Ahamed, titled ‘Resource Recovery Exemptions in NSW, Australia: Initiatives, Problems and the Need for Waste Reform’.

Three case studies were discussed in this paper to highlight the need for reform around use of the Resource Recovery Exemptions (RREs) and Resource Recovery Orders (RROs) which have been in effect since 2014 and are regulated by the NSW EPA.

The RREs and RROs are identified as a good strategy as they promote beneficial and safe reuse, recycling, and recovery of waste. In addition, they can reduce waste disposal costs because it allows for application of recovered resources to land as long it meets the criteria of the specific relevant RRE/RRO; however, the law of unforeseen/unintended consequences applies to RREs/RRO’s.

The case studies demonstrate that in the absence of increased regulation and vigilance to minimise the misuse of the RRO/RRE’s, there is a significant potential to re-contaminate remediated land and/or simply contaminate otherwise suitable land.

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