If you are involved or have the potential to be involved in the thermal treatment of waste in NSW, you will be aware that the NSW EPA recently released a Draft Policy Statement for public consultation.

The thermal treatment of waste:

  • recovers embodied energy from waste;
  • offsets the use of other energy sources; and
  • avoids methane emissions from landfill.

The Draft Policy Statement proposes a two-tiered framework for assessing thermal treatment of waste activities.

Facilities proposing to use “eligible waste fuels” will need to meet the following criteria:

  • be able to demonstrate to the EPA that the proposed waste consistently meets the definition of an EPA approved eligible waste fuel;
  • fully characterise the waste and/or undertake proof of performance;
  • meet the stringent Group 6 emission standards as set out in the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Regulation 2010; and
  • have a minimum calorific value of 10MJ/kg.

“Eligible waste fuels” are fuels that pose a minimal risk of harm to the environment and human health and have been publicly categorised as such by the EPA including:

  • biomass from agriculture;
  • residues from plantation forestry and sawmilling operations (excluding prohibited native forestry biomaterial);
  • uncontaminated wood waste;
  • recovered waste oil and tallow;
  • waste from virgin paper pulp activities;
  • coal washery rejects; and
  • landfill and biogas.

Further details will be included in a Technical Guidance Note that is currently being developed.

Facilities proposing to thermally treat waste that is not listed as an “eligible waste fuel” will be regarded as an “energy recovery facility” and will need to:

  • demonstrate use of current international best practice techniques to ensure air toxics and particulate emissions are below levels that pose a risk of harm to the environment or the community;
  • meet specified technical criteria;
  • meet specified thermal efficiency criteria; and
  • meet specified resource recovery criteria.

Further detail on these criteria and techniques are set out in the Draft Policy Statement.

The closing date for submissions is Friday, 3 May 2013. Please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance in understanding the proposed requirements and the potential impacts for your activities.