Qld Parliament passes environment bill with amendments

THE Queensland Parliament has passed the Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment (EPOLA) Bill that includes amendments to the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act (WRRA).
Qld Parliament passes environment bill with amendments Qld Parliament passes environment bill with amendments Qld Parliament passes environment bill with amendments Qld Parliament passes environment bill with amendments Qld Parliament passes environment bill with amendments

Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell

Jacqueline Ong

The bill progresses a second tranche of greentape reduction reforms and key changes include increasing the maximum penalty under the Environment Protection Act to $711,562.50, notification obligations for contaminated land and the introduction of end-of-waste codes (see Related Stories).

Following an inquiry, the Queensland Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee recommended passage of the bill but proposed a few changes, some of which have been have been implemented by the government.

End of waste codes and approvals

Under the current WRRA, a waste that has a beneficial use would be given either a general or specific Beneficial Use Approval (BUA).

When this happens, a waste that becomes a resource is not subject to waste management controls and will not be governed under other applicable controls.

As part of the EPOLA, the BUA approach will be replaced by end of waste codes and approvals, bringing in the new "end of waste" framework (see Related Stories).

In passing the bill, the government amended the term "registered code user" to "registered resource producer" as recommended by the committee. The former had caused confusion among stakeholders as it suggested that the term referred to the resource user and not the resource producer.

Section 157 - Effect of operating under end of waste code if unregistered - has also been amended to remove the reference to a person who uses a resource.

This section now ensures that a person cannot obtain the benefit of a code unless he/she is registered.

However, while producers under the code should be registered, the bill clarifies that users of a resource under an end of waste code should not have to become registered for the material to be classified as a resource instead of a waste.

According to the bill's explanatory notes: "End of waste codes are designed to include standards that will specify a particular quality of waste must meet before it can be deemed a resource. In prescribing this standard, the legislation requires that there must be consideration of the proposed use of resource and whether the proposed use may cause environmental harm."

"Since the code development process requires consideration of use, there should be no further regulation of users. Once the resource has met the standards of the code at the point of transfer, the regulation of the resource should be the same as for a resource that is not derived from waste."

Thus, the section has been amended to only apply to persons who sell or give away a resource and not to those who use a resource.

Following on this, section 158 - compliance with end of waste code - has also been amended to remove the reference to a person who uses a resource.

The section makes it an offence for a registered code user to contravene the requirements of the end of code waste.

However, it was determined that users of a resource "should not be required to comply with the requirements of an end of waste code."

Meanwhile, as a result of submissions to the committee, the government has agreed to remove section 173Q, which required the holder of an end of waste approval to ensure that every person acting under that approval complies with its conditions.

The government agreed that this section should be deleted as it acted as a disincentive to applying for an end of waste approval.

Instead, the section will be retained as originally drafted, providing the ability for action to be taken directly against any person acting under the approval if he/she does not comply with its conditions.

Explanatory notes to the government's amendments can be found here.

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