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Tag Archives: Legislation

Climate Active

Climate Active certification provides businesses and organisations with the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to managing their environmental impacts and committing to sustainable outcomes. Climate Active is the Australian Government backed program that enables business to measure, manage and offset carbon emissions from their operations or products and services. Organisations can also apply the certification to events, buildings and precincts that demonstrates their commitment to driving voluntary climate action in the growing face of pressures from customers and investors.

The Climate Active certification is awarded to organisations and businesses that have credibly reached state of carbon neutrality/ net zero emissions. The certification and verification process as well as public reporting requirements ensures that like for like businesses can be compared with respect to assessing, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions. 

The emergence of voluntary schemes such as Climate Active are driven by “social license” and responsible business practice. The scheme presents the opportunity to achieve greater staff engagement and demonstrate to customers you have in place a robust climate strategy commitment. The scheme aims to incentivise voluntary action, with the certification assisting the greater community by making it easier to identify brands, businesses and organisations that are committing to making a real difference.

Addressing barriers to Product Stewardship in Australia

Product stewardship calls for companies, supply chains and retailers to take greater responsibility for their services and products across their whole life cycle, from design to production to use and, finally, disposal. 

Earlier in July the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence released a white paper report “Addressing the Barriers: A needs assessment of product stewardship in Australia.” The paper aims to explore and understand the barriers to product stewardship in Australia, investigating opportunities for further development and expansion of product stewardship across the nation.

The paper discusses the major challenge such as free-riders; businesses or organisations that may benefit from product stewardship activity without contributing to the implementation or operation. 

Although not discussed in the paper, the voluntary trend of product stewardship in Australia is also an issue to consider. 

This trend is a particularly Australian phenomenon, as most other countries support regulatory approaches. Australian industry leadership towards product stewardship should be congratulated. For example, the recent announcement of the Australian Toy Association partnering with other leading brands to investigate product stewardship of toys, and the recognition of best practice for Tyre Stewardship Australia are positive developments. 

However, similar to the free-riding organisations, companies and industries who use voluntary as a means to defer, delay or avoid responsibility should be brought to account. 

Voluntary approaches cannot be realistically expected to work in a timely manner where there is no industry agreement and coordination, and where the brand owners are diffuse, have little or no local decision-making authority or are no longer trading. In such cases it at best will be a slow process and many years before some sort of voluntary approach is figured out. 

In general, the need for government intervention is generally greater the more complex the products and supply chain.

For product stewardship broadly to meet community expectations, to reach waste and recycling targets, to discourage free-riders and to support genuine leadership efforts, there therefore needs to be clear market signals that government will regulate when and where needed. 

While the Centre’s white paper correctly highlights key barriers, overcoming them will require the government to act where appropriate to put pressure on industry and ensure accountability, and that includes judicious use of regulatory powers.

MMI open for recycling and clean energy manufacturing grants

Earlier this month, the federal government announced a series of Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) grants for major recycling and clean energy projects. The government is inviting applications under its Recycling and Clean Energy stream, offering grants on average of $4 million, ranging from $1 million to $20 million. The $1.3 billion in funding will assist manufacturers to scale up, commercialise and collaborate.

The MMI grant stream is now open and made up of two separate funding opportunities; 

>Manufacturing translation component: will assist manufacturers in expressing their ideas into commercial outcomes and encourage investment in non R&D innovation.
>Manufacturing integration component: will assist in commercializing innovative concepts, integrating into local and domestic supply chains.

The government has outlined examples of the grants, addressing the funding suitability to include activities which aim to enable greater use of recycled materials across supply chains, and/or that promote increased use of clean energy within their industrial systems.

Applications for these grants close on the 5th of May and businesses must provide co – funding.

Boosting Product Stewardship Outcomes

The Australian Government has taken a major step-up on product stewardship policy reforms and funding aimed at encouraging manufacturers, retailers and industry groups to take greater responsibility for the entire life-cycle of the products they produce and sell.

The recurring theme and expectation on product stewardship in recent announcements by the Environment Minister is clear:

“We are building more capacity in our recycling sector and we need industry and brands to take greater responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts,”  said Minister Ley.

The reforms and funding are also taking a broader view of what product stewardship can and should do to better manage Australia’s waste challenges and make effective use of recycled materials in manufacturing, construction and infrastructure. Circular product design, reuse, repair and increased support for new stewardship schemes are just some of the recommendations and measures that the Government is seeking enable and facilitate.

The proposals are being put forward as the Morrison Government today launches the first round of grants from its new $20 million Product Stewardship Investment Fund to ensure manufacturers, retailers and industry groups take greater responsibility for the entire life-cycle of the products they produce and sell.

Grants of up to $1 million will be available for individual applicants to expand existing schemes or develop new ones, with first round applications already open.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the fund was a critical part of the Morrison Government’s billion-dollar recycling strategy ensuring that there are clear streams for collection, processing and remanufacture.

“We are building more capacity in our recycling sector and we need industry and brands to take greater responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts,” she said.

“There will be a particular focus on e-waste, ensuring that anything with a plug or a battery is subject to an industry scheme.

“Solar panels, batteries, and even non electronic items like child car seats all have recyclable components which shouldn’t be wasted in landfill.

It’s  noteworthy to  read that the Government is using the reforms and investment to both recognise proactive product stewardship initiatives by industry, but also to formally highlight and monitor those industries and companies that move slowly, resist stewardship action and remain indifferent to their corporate social and environmental responsibility.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans explained how product stewardship schemes would reduce the impact of products on the environment and create new job opportunities for Australians.

“This funding will shift the dial in Australia as we change our mindsets to thinking about waste as a resource,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“There will be strong economic and environmental benefits from turbo-charging product stewardship.

Review of the Product Stewardship Act

The  Government also released the Review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, supporting all 26 recommendations to improve product stewardship outcomes, including:

> establishing a new Centre of Excellence to mentor and drive best practice product stewardship schemes across the nation

> broadening the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to include all electrical and electronic products (e-waste), so that all consumer products with a plug or battery can be recycled

> shifting the emphasis from stand-alone products to entire material streams

> reducing the costs and improving the benefits of scheme accreditation so consumers have confidence in their recycling

> strengthening the Minister’s priority products list to encourage brands to work together towards an industry-led scheme by adding clear timeframes

> calling out those letting consumers and their industry down by not participating in a scheme.

Grant applications for new Product Stewardship Investment Fund are now available at www.business.gov.au

Equilibrium has a long history of successful involvement in scheme design review, communications and auditing across various product classes, and we look forward to seeing the reforms and investment expand the diversity of measurable product stewardship activity nationwide.

To read an Equilibrium piece on Next Level Product Stewardship, follow this link.

If you are interested in the Product Stewardship Investment Fund, or need advice or assistance with your submissions and initial inquiries, we’re eager to support your efforts.

Don’t hesitate to contact the Equilibrium team on BH (03) 9372 5356.

Recycling Modernisation Fund Transforming the Waste Industry

The Morrison Government will commit $190 million to a new Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) that will generate $600 million of recycling investment and drive a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity.

Announced today by The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment, and The Hon Trevor Evans MP, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, the Recycling Modernisation Fund will help create more than 10,000 jobs with over 10 million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill.

The RMF will support innovative investment in new infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture materials such as mixed plastic, paper, tyres and glass, with Commonwealth funding contingent on co-funding from industry, states and territories.

Australia’s waste and recycling transformation is being further strengthened by an additional:

> $35 million to implement Commonwealth commitments under Australia’s National Waste Policy Action Plan, which sets the direction for waste management and recycling in Australia until 2030.

> $24.6 million on Commonwealth commitments to improve our national waste data so it can measure recycling outcomes and track progress against our national waste targets.

> The introduction of new Commonwealth waste legislation to formally enact the Government’s waste export ban and encourage companies to take greater responsibility for the waste they generate, from product design through to recycling, remanufacture or disposal (Product Stewardship).

The moves are part of a national strategy to change the way Australia looks at waste, grow our economy, protect our environment and reach a national resource recovery target of 80% by 2030.

“As we cease shipping our waste overseas, the waste and recycling transformation will reshape our domestic waste industry, driving job creation and putting valuable materials back into the economy,” Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said today.

“At the same time, we need to stop throwing away tonnes of electronic waste and batteries each year and develop new ways to recycle valuable resources.

“As we pursue National Waste Policy Action Plan targets, we need manufacturers and industry to take a genuine stewardship role that helps create a sustainable circular economy.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, said that the unparalleled expansion of Australia’s recycling capacity followed close consultation with industry.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry.

The full media release can be viewed here.

If you are interested in the announcements or need assistance in assessing the opportunhities, please contact the Equilibrium team on BH (03) 9372 5356.

 

Waste-to-Energy: Is there a missing piece?

In the transition to a low-carbon economy, there is a constant search for energy that is not produced from fossil fuels. Australia’s renewable sector contributes roughly 17% of total electricity generation, 9.7% of which is produced by bioenergy. Biofuels also represents around 1% of Australia’s petrol and diesel production.

It is well recognised that biofuels will play an extremely important part in any low carbon, low emission plan for Australia’s future and there have been some noteworthy initiatives to promote and support this, including the Queensland biofuel mandate, the Energy Grants Scheme, Queensland’s Resource Recovery Industry Development Program, and Victoria’s Advanced Organics Processing Technology Grants program.

While the bioenergy and waste-to-energy sector within Australia is transitioning rapidly towards providing a solution to materials that have not historically been recycled, it’s starting to reveal significant gaps in Commonwealth legislation and policies, particularly with respect to defining waste-to-energy streams and how biodiesel is dealt with under the Excise Tariff Act 1921.

Under The Schedule, diesel produced from non-renewable resources has a current excise rate of a little over $0.40 per litre, while biodiesel has a rate of duty of only 10% of this amount. Biodiesel is defined as a fuel that is, in simple terms, derived from animal or vegetable fats or oils. However, many diesel fuels manufactured from other resources, including those defined as waste materials, fall outside of this definition.

The Australian Taxation Office’s Excise Guidelines recognise that recent technological developments have seen hydrocarbon fuels manufactured from various sources other than just crude or waste oil. The Guidelines go so far as to accept that “Technology now exists that allows fuel to be manufactured from feed-stocks such as waste plastic, used tyres and general household waste.”

While acknowledging that renewable diesel can be sourced not only from the hydrogenation of animal fats or vegetable oils, anything that is produced from materials outside of the original definition is still termed diesel and the full rate of duty is payable, irrespective if it has been derived from other feedstocks as outlined above.

Although it is recognised that the duty payable on biodiesel and renewable diesel was offset briefly through the Energy Grants (Cleaner Fuels) Scheme, which closed in July 2015, for companies now looking to invest in new waste-to-energy technologies and facilities, there is currently little to no regulatory framework to support them to produce renewable diesel fuel.

This ambiguity could be seen to be constraining Australia’s sustainable energy future with the current legislation reducing the ability to grow this sector, and as such inhibiting the ability for the industry to reach the economies of scale required to deliver cheaper low carbon fuels, and in particular those derived from waste materials that may not be recyclable.

Based on estimates from the Clean Energy Council and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation there is a potential investment opportunity of between $3.5 billion and $5 billion until 2020 in energy from urban waste, agricultural waste and forest residues. Waste-to-energy provides an innovative and multifaceted solution. Not only does it alleviate the environmental pressure on landfills, it also reduces fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

The Queensland Biofutures 10 Year Roadmap and Action Plan recognises the need to improve the excise rate of biofuels. Biofutures broadly refers to the sector focusing on “the development and manufacturing of products from sustainable organic and/or waste resources.” It is defined as a priority industry for Queensland, predicted to contribute $1.8 billion to the annual Gross State Product and support 6,640 full-time jobs in the state. The roadmap acknowledges the limited funding and poor excise and taxation treatment especially compared to successful global biotechnology sectors where there are strong subsidies.

It is clear that Australia is faced with regulatory framework which has not matched the accelerated pace of development in the combined energy and waste sector. Redefining the legislation to reconsider the definition of biodiesel to include waste as a resource and other alternative manufacturing processes for biodiesel production will assist in ensuring waste-to-energy technologies are given the necessary relief to ensure a sustainable future for renewable fuels.

This article was authored by Madelaine Waters, Environmental Consultant at Equilibrium.

ACOR Briefing Paper: Mandatory Product Stewardship Schemes

While all schemes can be improved, the current regulated take-back programs are producing good results, and there has been no demonstrable consumer concern about their cost.

Under the Product Stewardship Act 2011, schemes can be established to manage different products and materials in order to reduce their life-cycle impacts on the environment and on human health and safety.

Mandatory schemes involve enabling regulations to be made that would require some persons to take specified action in relation to products. Such requirements might include restricting the
manufacture or import of products, prohibiting products from containing particular substances, labelling and packaging requirements and other requirements relating to reusing, recycling,
recovering, treating or disposing of products.

A briefing paper prepared by Equilibrium for the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) identifies the likely costs of operating mandatory product stewardship schemes for tyres, mattresses and e-waste.

In considering the potential costs of a mandatory product stewardship scheme for various products, it is assumed that there will be development and set-up costs such as Regulatory Impact Statements, technical assessments and legal costs that will be borne by Government and industry participants / liable parties.

A copy of the briefing paper can be viewed on the ACOR website.

Emerging environmental compliance in Victoria

The need for business transition

Protecting the environment is a major area of activity for governments and business, particularly as we face complex pollution and waste management issues that can affect human health and sensitive ecosystems.

The Victorian Government has been working systematically to modernise the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in order to meet Victoria’s environment and human health challenges. The government response to the EPA Inquiry details the suite of reforms for the overall transformation of the EPA to a world class environmental regulator. It is important to note that these are the first major reforms since the EPA was formed in 1971.

The implementation of the reforms seeks to ensure that the:

> EPA will protect Victorians’ health and their environment, preventing and reducing harmful effects of pollution and waste.

> EPA will deliver efficient, proportionate and consistent regulation which is vital for economic prosperity by ensuring Victoria is an attractive place to invest, work, live and visit.

In many respects, the reforms establish a stronger emphasis on preventing environmental harm and foreseeable hazards and risks.

Figure 1. Summary of the EPA reforms and business regulation
The need for businesses to be prepared

The process highlights the on-going need for businesses to identify compliance issues and risks and be ready to transition to new requirements in a timely and considered manner.

The Victorian Environment Protection Act has now been updated and includes new provisions for governance arrangements.

The reform agenda will also bring about significant changes as to how businesses and organisations will be regulated in regard to environmental risk. A key change is the introduction of a ‘General Duty’ that will be used to strengthen EPA capability to prevent environmental harm.

The introduction of a General Duty will involve the use of ‘Codes of Practice’, an approach that is already widely used within Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation and regulation. For example, in Victoria OHS Law and Code of Practice provides practical guidance on how to comply with relevant regulation. The VIC EPA now makes it clear that this approach provides a preferred model to apply in regard to environmental regulation in Victoria.

Adherence to Codes of Practice will certainly involve sites that require EPA Licensing and Works Approvals. Beyond such sites, the VIC EPA is looking to create a register of businesses with activities that have a regulatory significance.

Initially the register may be based on the dangerous goods notifications register managed by WorkSafe, which could involve up to 2,800 businesses. The EPA is also looking to register other businesses that have a potential higher risk profile, examples of which include dry cleaners, electroplaters, petrol stations and non-intensive agricultural businesses.

The range of activities requiring works approvals and licensing is also set to be expanded. The current recommendations involve potentially expanding licensing to:

> Waste companies
> Recyclers
> Transfer stations
> Agriculture based businesses

The EPA has put in place a five-year strategy to implement the reform recommendations.

Guidance and support for businesses

Helping companies to be prepared and ready for the reforms is an essential part of the process.

Equilibrium is well positioned to support businesses to assess and prepare for impending regulatory changes. Our depth of experience relating to environmental and OHS risk management is at the forefront when it comes to identifying and preventing harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste.

Equilibrium’s knowledge of risk analysis and developing risk management strategies is founded on working to meet compliance requirements of Environmental and OHS regulations across Australia. Our experience covers leading projects across Australia.

Regular updates on reform implementation program are available at https://engage.vic.gov.au/reform-epa

More information

Contact Nicholas Harford for more information about Equilibrium’s services and how we can support your readiness for the reforms:

Nicholas Harford
Mobile: 0419 993 234  or  nick@equil.com.au

 

Equilibrium Joins C2P as a Knowledge Partner

Global advisory company Compliance & Risks tracks global policies, regulations and standards across key product and policy areas.

It is one of the most trusted names in compliance knowledge management, and provides a range of tools and services to help companies effectively manage the avalanche of global regulations as businesses struggle to keep up with market access rules.

Equilibrium is very pleased to announce that it has joined Compliance & Risks as a Knowledge Partner covering content for the Australian market.  We are well placed to share our knowledge and insights to the benefit of businesses who understand the broader benefits of being a sustainable enterprise.

A key tool in liberating businesses from an otherwise complex regulatory landscape is C2P: a comprehensive, online product compliance knowledge management platform. Compliance & Risks has developed and expanded C2P over many years of detailed development. It is supported by some of the best legal, business, supply chain and environmental specialists, who bring local regulatory news and insights from around the world.

Reporting on policy and regulatory initiatives in Australia

Specifically, Equilibrium will be contributing compliance news, alerts, key dates and commentary to C2P on a variety of topics including: batteries, climate change, conflict minerals, CSR, ecodesign and ecolabeling, e-waste/WEEE, waste management and resource recovery, energy efficiency, packaging, transport of dangerous goods and hazardous substances.

Equilibrium holds a wealth of experience related to many of these topics and will be able to share its knowledge with C2P customers around the world. This is increasingly important as many companies and governments transition to circular thinking and action.

Many of C2P customers include major blue-chip companies, OEMs and brands from the following industries:

– Electronics, lighting and telecommunications
Medical devices and chemicals
Energy and HVAC
Textiles
Automotive
Toys

Equilibrium’s contribution to C2P will reach companies in 120 countries around the world, and help ensure that they are kept abreast of key policy and regulatory developments in Australia. This includes the review of the Product Stewardship Act, proposals to develop a national battery recycling scheme, stewardship for photovoltaics and energy storage and progress on the e-waste landfill ban for Victoria.

Visit the Compliance & Risks website for more information about C2P, and make contact with Equilibrium about local compliance related issues.

More information

John Gertsakis
Director, Communications
Equilibrium
Mobile:  0409 422 089
Email:  john@equil.com.au