Loading...

Tag Archives: Regulation

Grant opportunities in New South Wales and Victoria

The NSW government has announced four grants available to improve recycling and waste services.  

> Organics Infrastructure: $6 million is available to support the processing of organic waste. This grant is available to local businesses, councils and projects that upgrade, build and expand organics processing infrastructure. Applications close October 21.

> Organics Collection: $12 million is available to support councils and regional organisations tied to councils to divert FOGO waste from kerbside collection. Applications close October 28.

> Circular Solar Grants: $7 million is available for government organisations councils research organisations, industry and not for profits for the development of innovative schemes that recycle and battery waste and solar panels. Applications close November 4.

> Litter Prevention Grants: $2 million is available for community litter reduction projects and schemes. These initiatives could include cigarette butt bin installations or community clean up days. Applications close November 8.

Round two of Innovation Fund grants open for applications in Victoria

In Victoria funding is available to support collaborative projects that aim to design out waste, improving both economic and environmental outcomes. Applications for both streams are open for projects that emphasize action within all phases of a resources’ lifecycle, promoting circular economy initiatives.

The two streams of funding available are:

>Stream One: Textiles Innovation: Between $75,000 – $150,000 of funding is available per project. Grants are available for projects which have a focus on preventing textile waste. Applications are open to industry groups, businesses, charities and research institutions.

> Stream Two: Collaborative Innovation: Between $150,000 and $250,000 of funding is available for each project. Grants are available to businesses, industry groups, charities and research institutions. Projects must have a collaborative focus on preventing waste from multiple organisations within a specific region, supply chain or sector.

The closing date for both Victorian grants is Monday 15th of November at 11:59pm.

Waste Export License

The Australian Government has implemented the Waste Export Ban, and has begun to regulate the export of Australian of certain wastes.

As of July 2021, glass and mixed plastics “waste” are regulated for export. Baled and whole tyres are set to be regulated from the 1st of December and other materials  including cardboard and mixed paper by July 2022. Separate requirements are required for hazardous waste.

Each type of waste stream will have its own regulation start date and rules. To continue to export waste, organisations will have to:

>Meet the requirements and rules or be exempted
>Declare each consignment
>Hold a waste export license for the waste type

Under this ban, exporters and organisations which meet these specific requirements are able to apply for a license to export regulated waste overseas. Waste export licenses are granted for a period of up to three years for organisations who meet certain criteria.

Equilibrium has developed a guide and can help with the waste export license application. For more information please contact us or visit the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.

New environmental laws in Victoria from July 1 2021

EPA Victoria will have increased powers from 1 July 2021 to prevent harm to public health and the environment from pollution and waste. 

The laws include sweeping changes which transforms EPA powers and requirements for business owners and operators. It is the responsibility of all business directors and managers to understand the new laws and how to comply. It is also your responsibility to make sure all employees understand requirements under the new laws.

One of the more pivotal and central changes is the introduction of the General Environmental Duty (GED). The GED is all-inclusive, applying to all businesses in Victoria, irrespective of size or type of operation. In short, under the GED, all Victorian businesses and organisations must take action to protect the environment and human health.

For many businesses in Victoria environmental risk management is already embedded into everyday operations, and the GED should require minimal change. However, now is the time to review systems against the new laws and be confident of compliance. It will be important to keep risk registers and risk management plans up to date and:

>Ensure environmental risk of pollution to land, air or water is assessed for all business activities.
>Action plans are in place to eliminate or control risks.
>Actions are implemented in a timely manner, and effectiveness monitored.
>Keep documented records of risk assessments and action plans to demonstrate

EPA Victoria provides guides and tools to help businesses comply with the GED, including:

>EPA Self-Assessment Tool – for supporting small business with action planning
>Assessing and Controlling Risk Business Guide – risk management framework for business
>Managing low risk activities
guidance for businesses with low risk, e.g. offices, cafes, retail.

Greenwashing and the ‘race to zero’

Global markets, shareholders and consumers are impelling corporates to announce climate action and net zero policies across the globe. This movement has resulted in a rush of company directors announcing net zero pledges without fully examining their capacity and ability to meet their goals.

Renew Economy stressed that failures to meet these goals, could be considered “guilty or misleading conduct”, resulting in legal or regulatory penalties. The long timeframe to achieve net zero goals and the current lack of clear, unified regulatory approach, may have set a false sense of ease. In March, The Conversation among other researchers published the first analysis of net zero commitments of 4,000+ sub-national governments and companies which account for 80% of global emissions. The study highlighted that only 60% of plans announced interim targets and 62% of the corporates announced reporting mechanisms.

If corporates are serious with their net zero intent, it will be met with robust measures in place and pledging a target which can be held accountable by shareholders and consumers. Credibility should be demonstrated by accreditations from impartial mechanisms such as a science-based target, which will validate whether the plan is credible. Last week Australia Post and Newcastle Port have become the latest Australian organisation to have their emissions targets recognised by the Science-Based Targets program, validating both the corporates’ efforts to limit temperature rise “well below two degrees”.

Net zero targets are statements of corporate intent, and should not be made unless research has been undertaken to ensure they are deliverable. Corporates are encouraged to seek advice and support regarding this. Goals should be genuine, and importantly realistic in their approach to reach net zero.

Considerations for the impacts on SMEs as major corporates ‘race to zero’

Numerous corporations have joined the “race to net zero” emissions, announcing targets and policies to reduce their carbon outputs. The impacts these declarations will have on small to medium sized enterprises (SME) within major corporates’ supply chains should be considered.

For example, Unilever is a leader in producing fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and their announced climate policy and targets in their Climate Transition Action Plan. The plan was put to shareholder vote earlier this month with the majority of shareholders voting in support of the climate action strategy. The company’s voluntary targets, signify a movement that responsible businesses cannot and should not wait for regulation. Corporates opting for voluntary annual emission reports and in this case, an advisory shareholder vote, signify an increased level of transparency and accountability between investors, consumers and businesses. 

However, the impacts of these policies on the supply chain and wider network need to be considered.  

>Where does the cost lie? The plan discusses the intent to cost neutrally reduce the emissions from raw material suppliers. The cost of reducing these emissions will be placed onto the suppliers, potentially placing the burden on the supply chains of SME’s to shoulder.
>What support for SMEs will be provided? The introduction of carbon data invoices is an example of an area where smaller companies will need assistance. Although it may sound like a simple tweak to the system, it may be complex to set up and deliver and potentially not cost neutral.
>How will the new supplier reporting frameworks chosen by major multinationals start to shape and influence the uptake of different reporting methodologies? As there are an overwhelming variety of these methodologies in use (TFCD, Science based targets, GRI, CDP, as well as national government systems), there is much debate around how to select one global standard to use. Unilever in this case have chosen Science Based Targets, which may have an influence on the uptake of that particular framework at a global scale. 

Corporates are setting expectations on acceptable reporting methodologies for their suppliers. This has the potential to be a positive environmental step, as data will be influential in setting a global consensus for mass scale climate reporting methods. When large corporations dictate that science based targets are the new reporting frameworks they want from suppliers, it may be hard to envision how this reporting framework won’t become a new norm for SMEs in Australia and elsewhere.

Written by Marita Doak and Donald Fraser

Considerations for Victoria’s single use plastic ban

Earlier in March, the Victorian Government announced a phase out ban of single use plastics by 2023. This includes products such as polystyrene containers, straws, plates, cutlery and cotton buds, with departments starting their phase out in 2022. Single use plastic items make up approximately one third of Victoria’s litter per annum, with many of the single use items classified as economically unviable or difficult to recycle. The government is encouraging reusable items instead of single use plastics, such as metal, paper or bamboo alternatives. Emergency services, scientific and medical activities that may require single use plastic will not be affected.

The government proposes to work with communities and stakeholders to finalise the delivery and design of the ban, emphasising the importance of education and behavioural change as a key aspect in achieving a phase out.

Equilibrium has worked extensively on packaging and problem wastes, leading a similar project with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) to improve the environmental impacts of packaging. Through exploration of this sector, there is a need to consider the following when delivering and the designing the ban:

> What is the evidence of defining single use plastic and prioritising any phase out? It is paramount to ensure an evidenced-based approach to definitions, criteria setting and identifying potential approaches to phasing out materials.
> Have the potential subsidiary outcomes been considered? For example, the reduced access to products for vulnerable sectors of the community? In this case, the hospitality industry has already cautioned that the ban may place the cost of the alternatives on the consumers.
>Whether there are appropriate viable alternatives, and what are the environmental impacts of using and or producing alternative products such as metal and bamboo cutlery?
>The scope of the ban, will support range from innovation right through the supply chain? To achieve genuine environmental improvement, support needs to start with manufacturers, brand owners and product retailers.

Worksafe Victoria’s New Manslaughter Offences

Protecting the health, safety and welfare of employees and other people at every workplace is an essential activity that requires careful and systematic management.

The importance of effective workplace safety has been further highlighted with amendments to Victoria’s laws as they relate to manslaughter offences.

More specifically, the Workplace Safety Legislation Amendment (Workplace Manslaughter and other matters) Bill 2019 passed Parliament on 26 November 2019, is expected to come into effect in 1 July 2020.

Additional information about the new Worksafe Victoria laws can be found here.

So what are some of the key messages and changes?

> Penalties for safety and environmental breaches are getting tougher.

> New workplace safety laws in Victoria are to be introduced by July 1 2020.

> The commencement of new environmental regulations has been postponed by 12 months, now due to come into effect 1 July 2021.

> After 1 July 2020 workplace manslaughter will be a jailable offence up to 20 years. Fines will increase to $16.5million for a corporation.

> Businesses can be penalised under Environment and OHS laws if human health risks are not managed.

> Compliance with new safety and environment regulations involves ongoing monitoring and updating of risk management systems.

Worksafe expects organisations to eliminate or minimise OHS risks as far as is reasonably practicable, and the new EPA environmental regulations take a similar approach.

Organisations must keep their systems up to date with the ‘state of knowledge’ around business risks. The term ‘state of knowledge’ is used by both EPA Victoria and Worksafe Victoria, and effectively takes into account all the information a business (or any other organisation) should reasonably know about managing identified risks.

More information about the new EPA regulations can be found here.

It is up to all organisations to ensure that their workers are safe and that risks are managed wherever they may be working, including work conducted offsite and at other workplace premises.

Equilibrium staff are available to discuss how the new regulations may impact your business, and what you may to consider for ongoing compliance measures.

If you have any questions about the changes, please contact the team at Equilibrium on BH (03) 9372 5356.

New EPA Regulations for Victoria 2020

Major reforms to Victoria’s Environment Protection regulations represent a major transformation to how EPA Victoria will operate to protect public health and the environment.

In July 2020, the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 will come into effect and it represents a major shift in the regulations and their state- wide application. The key elements of the Act cover the following themes:

> Prevention
> Flexible and risk-based
>
Transparency
>
Justice

General environmental duty

General environmental duty (GED) is a key focus and a new concept under the Act. The EPA’s definition for GED is:

“A person who is engaging in an activity that may give rise to risks of harm to human health or the environment from pollution or waste must minimise those risks, so far as reasonably practicable”.

The EPA talks about a three-step process to comply with GED:

1. The duty holder needs to understand the risks that pollution or waste from their activities might present to human health or the environment.
2. The ways those risks can be controlled need to be identified and understood.
3. Duty holders are required to put in place any reasonably practicable measures to reduce the likelihood of the possible harm arising.

The Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 involves various other requirements that will affect businesses and industry. More information is available via the EPA Victoria website.

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients across diverse industries and sectors to comply with the Act. We will continue to unpack the Act and share our observations in future blogs. If you have any questions about the  changes, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

Nick Harford on 0419 993 234 or Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961.

For our previous post on the Victorian EPA, visit here.

Recycling Victoria: A New Economy

The Victorian Government is seeking to improve the performance of the waste and recycling sector, and has released a 10-year policy and action plan – Recycling Victoria – to reform the system with a focus on the circular economy.

Victoria exports approximately 1.27million tonnes of paper, plastic and cardboard each year overseas, and this includes 30% of all recycling collected from Victorian households.

The figures are compelling; it is estimated that by 2046, Victorians will create 40% more waste than in 2017-18. The extent of the activity and industry development is significant as highlighted by the total quantum of funding that has poured into Victorian waste and resource recovery initiatives; $134 million from the Victorian Government since 2015.

You can download a copy the Recycling Victoria policy here.

A four bin waste and recycling system, a container deposit system (CDS), a circular economy business innovation centre, landfill levy reform and increased funding for infrastructure, are among the package of measures outlined in the policy.

The policy in part talks about the transition to a circular economy and the importance of taking action across the life-cycle of materials to maximise value and minimise waste.

Four specific goals

Four specific goals guide the process of moving from a take-make-waste model, to a more system-wide approach that seeks to be circular, sustainable and economically responsible.

These four goals are aimed at taking a smarter approach to making, using, recycling and managing products, buildings, infrastructure and materials.

Goal 1 – Design to last, repair and recycle

Generate less waste in businesses through innovation and design; use recycled materials in products and consider impacts across product life cycles; and support business to explore new circular economy business models.

Targets and outcomes include:

> 15 per cent reduction in total waste generation per capita between 2020 and 2030.

> Divert 80% of waste from landfill by 2030, with an interim target of 72% by 2025.

> Cut the volume of organic material going to landfill by 50% between 2020 and 2030, with an interim target of 20% reduction by 2025.

Goal 2 – Use products to create more value

Help people make smart purchasing decisions and extend the life of products and support the reuse economy; repair goods where possible.

Targets and outcomes include:

> 15% reduction in total waste generation per capita between 2020 and 2030.

> Support Victorian communities and council to reduce waste.

> Prevent plastic pollution.

> Support the reuse economy.

Goal 3 – Recycle more resources

Reform kerbside collections to generate more value from waste; improve the separation of recyclable materials; develop markets for recovered materials; plan for and boost investment in recycling infrastructure; embed the waste hierarchy in the management of materials; support the development of appropriate waste to energy facilities.

Targets and outcomes include:

> Divert 80% of waste from landfill by 2030, with and interim target of 72% by 2025.

> Halve the volume of organic material going to landfill by 50% between 2020 and 2030, with an interim target of 20% reduction by 2030.

> 100% of households have access to a separate food and organics recovery service or local composting by 2030.

Goal 4 – Reduce harm from waste and pollution

Protect communities and the environment from high-risk and hazardous wastes.

Targets and outcomes include:

> Support safe and effective high-risk and hazardous waste management.

> The Vic Gov will consider the potential introduction of new levies for waste being stockpiled for long periods, recover avoided waste levies and disposal fee for illegally stockpiled wastes, ensure adequate disposal point of asbestos across the state.

> The Victorian Government spends an estimated $58 million each year in clean-up costs at abandoned waste sites and $105 million each year to respond to stockpile fires. Clean-up costs and lost landfill levy revenue from illegal dumping equates to $30 million a year.

Monitoring and measuring progress

Of course, accurate data and transparency will be key to monitoring the reforms and their intended outcomes. More specifically the Victorian policy outlines it ‘key commitment’ to expanding Victorian’s waste data systems by:

> Establish a framework for monitoring progress towards the circular economy, including the identification of indicators and metrics

> Introduce a new waste and recycling data system to enable better waste management and circular economy monitoring

> Continuing to provide public waste and recycling market intelligence reporting.

The reforms in the Recycling Victoria policy herald an important and necessary opportunity for government, industry and the community to work together to improve kerbside recycling, invest in priority infrastructure and better manage high-risk and hazardous waste.

Recycling Victoria also outlines additional initiatives that can support waste avoidance and behaviour change, further develop waste to energy options and meet community and local council expectations for reliable services.

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients across diverse industries and sectors to adopt specific elements and aspects of the Recycling Victoria policy.

If you have any questions about the  policy and how your organisation can benefit, implement or comply with specific goals, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

Nick Harford on 0419 993 234 or Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961.

NZ moves on regulated product stewardship

The New Zealand Government is proposing a new way to deal with environmentally harmful products before they become waste, including plastic packaging and bottles, as part of a wider plan to avoid rubbish ending up in landfill.

Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage released a public consultation document titled, “Proposed priority products and priority product stewardship scheme guidelines” at the Sustainability Trust in Wellington today (9 August 2019)

You can download the consultation paper here.

“New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and want to help ensure we live up to it.

“Well-designed product stewardship schemes ensure that those making, selling and using products all help take responsibility to recover the materials and avoid them ending up in landfills,” Eugenie Sage said.

“This is the first time that Government has been serious about creating regulated, rather than voluntary, product stewardship schemes in New Zealand.

“Regulated product stewardship is a step towards changing that and to designing waste out of production. This is part of a longer-term goal of moving to a more efficient, low-emissions, sustainable and inclusive economy for New Zealand.

“Regulated product stewardship helps puts the responsibility for effective material and waste management on product manufacturers, importers, retailers and users, rather than on communities, councils, neighbourhoods and nature,” she said.

Priority product categories proposed for regulated product stewardship schemes are:

> packaging, including beverage containers and plastic packaging
> tyres
> electrical and electronic products (e-waste), starting with lithium-ion
> batteries
> refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases
> agrichemicals and their containers and other farm plastics.

“This is the first time the tools for regulated product stewardship in the Waste Minimisation Act are being looked at seriously, although they have been in the Act since 2008.

“The 14 existing accredited schemes are all voluntary. While some, such as the Agrecovery scheme for agricultural chemical containers have provided significant benefits, much more can be achieved with a comprehensive regulated scheme which creates a level playing field and helps reduce waste and the risk of environmental from it.

“Today’s proposal also presents potential economic benefits. Many products and materials presently lost to landfill could be recovered and reused throughout the economy creating new business opportunities and new jobs.

“Products that have reached the end of their life can be used to make something new, especially if they are designed better for reuse and recycling.

“Consultation is the first step towards regulation, deciding which products are declared ‘priority products’ and allowing mandatory regulation to be used under the Waste Minimisation Act.

The next step will be to work with business and other stakeholders to co-design regulations that will work for them and the environment” Eugenie Sage Said.

Overseas experience shows that this can be done at minimal new cost to business or consumers. Before any regulations are passed, the costs and benefits will be fully spelled out and consulted on.

Consultation on what products should be considered is open now and closes on October 4 2019. Learn more here: https://www.mfe.govt.nz/consultations/priorityproducts

More information

If you are an Australian-based supplier, manufacturer or brand operating in the New Zealand market and need some guidance or support with the consultation process, contact Nick Harford at nick@equil.com.au or mobile 0419 993 234