Regulating The Waste Industry
NSW has stringent waste laws and regulations that guide the classification, transport, and handling of the state’s waste industry.
The two (2) main legislations dealing with waste in NSW are the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) (“the Act”) and the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 (NSW) (“the Regulations”).
The main authority responsible for enforcing these legislations is the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (“EPA”).
What is ‘Waste’?
Waste is defined in the Act to include:
The EPA has introduced ‘waste classification guidelines’ to assist businesses in classifying their waste as the following:
Do you need a license?
If you want to carry out a business for a waste-related activity, it is up to you to determine whether or not you need a license.
Section 43 of the Act requires you to hold a license should you be undergoing works mentioned in sections 47- 49, as well as the activities listed under section 122 of the Act. These include:
- Any place where scheduled development work is being carried out;
- Any premise and non-premised based activities listed in schedule 1 of the Act, such as:
For a full list of activities that require a license, see Schedule 1 of the Act.
Part 5.6, Division 3 of the Act sets out the different types of waste offences in NSW, its maximum penalty, as well as any defences you may raise. To summarise, it is an offence to:
The aforementioned offences are referred to as ‘Tier 2’ penalties. The maximum penalties for each offence are:
Tier 1 Offences
Tier 1 offences are found in Part 5.2 of the Act (sections 115 – 117) and relates to any offence whereby a person disposes of waste that causes or is likely to cause harm to the environment, such as:
You can be charged for a Tier 1 Offence regardless of whether the offence was done wilfully or negligently. Depending on whether the offence was carried out wilfully or negligently, different penalties may apply.
Generally, the maximum penalties for a Tier 1 offence is:
- If committed wilfully, fines up to $5,000,000
- If committed negligently, fines up to $2,000,000
- If committed wilfully, fines up to $1,000,00 or seven (7) years imprisonment
- If committed negligently, fines up to $400,000 or four (4) years imprisonment
Generally, you may be able to rely on the following defences for an offence under the Act: