The Department of Environment and Science (the Department) has finalised its review of the regulated waste classification and waste-related Environmentally Relevant frameworks. Following consultation with stakeholders the Environmental Protection (Regulated Waste) Amendment Regulation 2018 has now been approved and will commence on 4 February 2019.
At a time when the Queensland agricultural sector is continuing to demonstrate stewardship of the resources it uses and maximise recycling opportunities, the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) is disappointed the review classified animal effluents and residues, including abattoir effluent and poultry and fish processing wastes; food processing wastes; liquid food processing wastes; and vegetable oils as Category 2 Regulated Wastes.
QFF has been working with farmers and rural communities to recognise the importance of farm sustainability and to grow and develop the resource recovery sector in Queensland. While the state’s agricultural sector is moving towards adopting a circular economy and striving to find innovative and practical solutions for the management of farm waste, this classification is a barrier to the recovery of recyclable and waste materials.
For example, waste vegetable oils are critical feedstocks for Queensland’s biodiesel industry while the bioconversion of agricultural waste and food processing waste products to produce value-added fuels and chemicals offers potential economic, environmental and strategic advantages over traditional fossil-based products. Additionally, from 4 March 2019, these wastes will incur the higher levy rate of $100 per tonne if they are sent to a landfill inside the levy area, which includes 38 local governments and covers 90% of Queensland’s population.
Greater resource recovery and bioenergy opportunities would attract business investment and create regional jobs by securing the feedstock the agriculture sector needs. There is also great potential for the sector to maximise value from byproducts and build Queensland’s bioenergy and bioeconomy futures. Bioenergy is the world’s primary source of renewable energy and yet opportunities still abound to generate fuel, heat and power from sustainably-sourced organic matter. Queensland is leading bioenergy innovation with start-ups exploring new ideas and opportunities in the sector and events like EnergyLab’s Bioenergy Australia Hackathon in Brisbane. Many of these bioenergy resource streams have already been mapped throughout Queensland in the Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment which provides detailed information about biomass resources for the development of new bioenergy projects and provides linkages between biomass supply through the supply chain to the end user. Resources sector mapping is already complete for the intensive animal industries, cotton, cane, horticulture and timber.
While the Queensland and Australian Governments have pledged support for these resource streams to be beneficially used in a range of processes and in closed-loop material-efficient processes, assistance has been limited to some sectors. It is important that the waste and recycling industry, governments and agricultural industries continue to work together to remove barriers to the collection and recovery of recyclable materials and develop cost effective and environmentally-efficient processes for material capture and recovery in the future. The agricultural sector is on board, as is the waste and recycling industry. It is now time for governments to step up.