ASBG supported the general thrust of the draft Clean Air Strategy (CAR) and the ongoing process of improving ambient and local air quality for the people of NSW. While this is supported it must be balanced with NSW being able to provide well-paying jobs, which industry in particularly provides.  A number of issues were raised including:

  • Application of new air standards on existing industrial sites - there is a trend to apply newer air standards to existing sites, especially from the Ambient Air Quality NEPM (AAQ NEPM).  However, there are a number of NSW Government policy positions which should prevent this. (see submission for details)
  • Air emissions by industry in perspective - In NSW's most stressed n the Sydney Air shed, industrial emissions are a minority, with motor vehicles and wood heaters and BBQ combustion being larger sources.  So why is the CAS focusing on reducing industrial emissions, especially in other cleaner air sheds when the cost-benefit is quite low compared to other source control? ASBG also questioned why industrial NOx emissions i increased by 50% (7.9% to 11.9%) from 2014 to 2018.
  • Application of new air standards and policy on new industrial sites - The AAQ NEPM recent new standards on PM, NOx SOx and O3 are the world's tightest.  This will exclude or make very expensive many types of new industrial development, particularly large thermal systems.  ASBG recommends a cost-benefit study be done to identify the types of industry NSW does not want and prefers.
  • Concern on the cost impacts of the revised Load Based Licensing scheme (LBL) - The 2016 LBL scheme came with massive cost increases, which could force some sites to close.  ASBG recommended the implementation of LBL on sites should be subject to a similar negotiated process with appeal as applies to Environment Protection Licences.  A negotiated process should avoid many site closures.
  • Funding arrangements under the Net Zero Plan (NZP) and other assistance. NZP provides a series of welcome grants and financial packages, which all must focus on reducing greenhouse gases (GHS).  ASBG points out that the CAS is largely focused on local air pollution not global, and there can be conflict such as reducing NOx can increase GHG emissions.  Also the CAS is largely missing any financial assistance to industry to reduce its air emissions, unlike other international schemes where taxes similar to LBL are fully hypothecated to funding industry emission reduction.

ASBG’s Submission on EPA’s Regulatory Strategy,  covers three issues:

  • Clarification on the extent of the EPA’s regulation of health issues and minimisation of overlap with Safework NSW, especially where s127 POEO Act defence is not included in EPLs.
  • Improved reference to the EPA’s Principles, especially Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) and the Precautionary Principle.  Here the draft ignores economic considerations and does not use or reference the full definition of ESD under s6 POEA Act.
  • Application of the risk-based approach and use of a science-based approach, especially to help overcome the contrary presence-based approach for contaminants currently used for asbestos waste.

The Review of the Used Packaging NEPM largely considers the performance of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the State and Territory governments in enforcing and collecting information on packaging.  While the APCO performance was considered modest this is far better than the performance of the government agencies who, virtually ignored their role in supporting the APCO.  ASBG recommends the APCO continue, but be better supported in naming and shaming free-rider brand owners (those who are not signatories to the APCO), though minimal effort by the jurisdictions by simply issuing non-compliance letters.  These letters can be then used legally by APCO to name the free-riders and effect market and consumer forces to press them into compliance.

The Sampling Design Guidelines contained text book approach to statistical sampling for contaminated sites, but over-ruled this flexible approach by requiring set grid separation distances.  Table 2 used a one risk profile to fit all approach, over-ruling the ability to use calculated methods to determine an appropriate grid for systematic sampling.  ASBG recommended that at least 4 types of default risk profiles should be used, where the user can undertake a simple risk assessment and then apply the appropriate default grid, or use a fully calculated statistical model as described in the Guidelines, justifying an alternative grid.  ASBG also recommended a similar approach for stockpile sampling where table 4 has the minimum sampling criteria, but leaving no room for homogeneous stockpiles.  Additionally, provision for dealing with stockpiles where sampling access is limited due to safety or other reasons should be also considered.

ASBG addressed a number of areas in the Options Paper for Victoria's Waste and Recycling Bill. 

  • An overall theme ASBG puts forward is that Victoria should work with the Commonwealth on Waste policy such as on the National Waste Policy and Product Stewardship.  Requiring quality waste data has been a long term goal across Australia and Victoria citing this requirement is welcomed only if it is nationally consistent and adheres to nationally agreed definitions and made publically available.
  • ASBG supports the formation of the Waste Authority and points to other similar bodies which have existed or currently do to help form a better legislative framework.  Formation of recycling standards is also welcomed, but these need to be developed with stakeholders in mind and contamination issues are addressed at their sources.  Business will be required to source separate. 
  • ASBG recommended that tiered approach be used that considers scale, location and type of business in enforcing separation in proportion to waste volumes and types. 
  • ASBG is concerned that Victoria wishes to include it own Extended Producer Responsibility and Product Stewardship schemes, when the Commonwealth is leading the way.  Having different schemes for Victoria or simply a different product priority list would be quite difficult for Victorian suppliers. 
  • Having infrastructure planning managed by the Waste Authority is welcomed and ASBG offered advice on how to get unfavourable waste facilities through the planning process with community support.


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