The NSW EPA is seeking feedback on the draft Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Thermal Energy from Waste) Regulation 2021 (Draft Regulation), which aims to give effect to the restrictions proposed in the Energy From Waste Infrastructure Plan 2041 (EfW Plan). The EfW Plan was released in September 2021.  

In summary, key components of the Draft Regulation are set out below:

  • Projects that generate energy from the ‘thermal treatment of waste’ are limited to four precincts, being the West Lithgow Precinct, Parkes Special Activation Precinct, Richmond Valley Regional Jobs Precinct and Southern Goulburn Mulwaree Precinct.
  • ‘Thermal treatment of waste’ includes incineration, thermal oxidation, gasification, pyrolysis and plasma technologies. The definition excludes (among other things) :
    • autoclaving processes, anaerobic digestion, composting;
    • thermal treatment of biosolids, contaminated soil or scrap metal;
    • the thermal treatment of waste plastic to produce plastic products, or inputs for plastic products, where at least 75% of the weight of the waste plastic thermally treated in a 12-month period is used in that way; and
    • the treatment of "eligible waste fuel", as defined in the EPA's Eligible Waste Fuels Guidelines.
  • There are exceptions to the rule – an energy from waste project may be established outside these precincts in the following circumstances:
    • if the project is established at a former mine site or former power station
    • if the project will replace the combustion of coal or diesel; and
    • if at least 90% of the energy generated from the project will be used by on-site industrial or manufacturing operations.
  • The Draft Regulation does not apply to thermal treatment of biosolids, contaminated soil or scrap metal, biological processes, incineration of waste for destruction or disposal, thermal treatment of waste plastic to produce plastic products, or inputs for plastic products and thermal processes where there is no change in the chemical composition of the waste.

The NSW EPA has indicated that the exclusions under the Draft Regulation aim to support the transition to a circular economy by ensuring that necessary waste processing and recycling activities involving thermal treatment can continue to lawfully operate throughout NSW after the Draft Regulation becomes law.

The NSW Government is seeking feedback on the proposed amendments in the Draft Regulation. Public comment is open until 5pm on Sunday, 20 March 2022.

You can make a submission here.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss, or if you would like assistance with making a submission on the Draft Regulation.