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defining waste

‘One man’s waste…’ Kiera Crosariol and Mike Ritchie, MRA Consulting Group

NSW Land and Environment Court Decision

A recent case in the NSW Land and Environment Court has highlighted the discord between NSW’s planning laws and the environmental protection laws, which could impact the way that waste and recycling processors are approved and regulated.

T

he case in question was

Justice Nicola Pain looked for the defini-

The State Environmental Planning Policy

between Glass Recovery

tion of ‘waste’, she found that there was

(Infrastructure) (the Infrastructure SEPP)

Services - the owner

no unified regulatory definition of the word.

and the Environmental Planning and As-

of a glass beneficiation

It is different or non-existent depending on

sessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) do not

facility in Penrith - and

where you look.

define ‘waste’ at all. To add further con-

the Department of Plan-

The Environmental Planning and Assess-

fusion, the Infrastructure SEPP defines a

ning and Infrastructure. The conflict stems

ment Regulation 2000 NSW Sch 3 defines

resource recovery facility as a “facility for

from the reprocessing of glass; specifically

waste as any “solid, gaseous or liquid or a

the recovery of resources from waste… but

whether glass is a ‘waste’ for the purpose

combination of any solids, gases or liquids

not including re-manufacture of material”

of reprocessing at a ‘waste or recourse

that is discarded or is refuse… A substance

(emphasis added).

recovery facility’. (This would require

is not precluded from being a waste… merely

With these issues in mind, the court sought

development consent, in comparison to a

because it can be reprocessed, re-used or

a definition from the common usage via a

‘second-hand good’ used for manufacturing,

recycled or because it is sold or intended

dictionary, relevant case law and a definition

which would not.)

for sale” (emphasis added).

in the Protection of the Environment Operation

The Department of Planning and Infra-

However, this regulation - and therefore

Act 1997 (POEO Act), which defines waste as

structure argued that glass reprocessing

definition - only applies to ‘designated develop-

“any (thing) discarded, rejected, unwanted,

is the processing of ‘waste’ at a ‘waste

ments’. The glass beneficiation application was

surplus…”. This definition is one that most

or resource recovery facility’. But when

classified as ‘state significant development’.

people from the waste sector are familiar with.

This issue is sponsored by — Schneider Electric — http://www.schneider-electric.com.au/sites/australia/en/products-services/product-launch/smart-panels/smart-panels.page 15

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Sustainability Matters Aug/Sep 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...

Sustainability Matters Aug/Sep 2015  

Sustainability Matters is a bi-monthly magazine showcasing the latest products, technology and sustainable solutions for industry, governmen...