Read a snapshot of some of the policy and regulatory updates relevant to the environment in the September 2022 quarter across Australia and New Zealand.
The biggest policy development this quarter has been the federal government’s introduction of 2 climate change bills. A flagship election promise from Labor, the key aspects of the bills saw the government seek to legislate a 43% emissions reduction target by 2030, based on 2005 levels and net zero by 2050. The bills passed both houses on 8 September, enshrining in law Australia’s commitment to turning the tide. Relatedly, Tasmania’s lower house of parliament passed legislation committing to net zero (or lower) by 2030.
Veolia is supporting the federal government’s mission to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, including legislation on the 2030 target. Veolia is developing alternatives to landfill to reduce emissions and offer clean energy solutions in the form of energy from waste, as well as solar, wind and energy generation at the Woodlawn Eco Precinct, EarthPower and Ti Tree bioenergy facilities. Veolia is installing solar panels on the roofs of all its sites across Australia and New Zealand, has set a net zero target globally for 2050 and has established a Climate Change Priority in Australia and New Zealand to help identify the projects to achieve this target.
Waste export ban
In March 2020, the former Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to introduce export restrictions for certain types of waste. The Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 came into force on 1 July that year with regulations on the export of glass waste. Similar measures have since been introduced for plastic (1 January 2021) and tyres (1 December 2021), with cardboard set to follow on 1 July 2024.
Veolia recognises the need for a global export economy, but supports measures to increase local recycling infrastructure capabilities. Our preparation for the staged bans has focussed on improving and upgrading infrastructure to be able to process materials locally before exporting an approved byproduct, in accordance with the Act. Veolia upgraded its optical sorting technology at its Spring Farm Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in NSW, and in its MRF in Bibra Lake in WA, Veolia invested over $4 million to upgrade infrastructure to better sort mixed recycling materials. Veolia is also looking to further invest in its recycling capabilities.
While local recycling infrastructure catches up with the regulatory change, Veolia believes there should be consideration for stricter measures for packaging and end markets, which would radically improve the function of the supply chain.
Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs)
On 1 July, incoming Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, announced an independent review into the integrity of ACCUs, including landfill gas (LFG) capture.
Veolia undertakes LFG capture at some of its landfill facilities, for which it receives carbon credits. Veolia supports the industry view that ACCUs are a valuable tool in combating the effects of climate change and meeting the government’s emissions reduction targets. Veolia is one of many industry partners working with the review panel to provide feedback.
The federal government sought views on options to reform the Safeguard Mechanism as part of reducing overall emissions to help achieve the legislated targets. The government is proposing to progressively reduce the baseline – the level at which Australia’s largest greenhouse gas emitters must stay below – as one tool towards net zero by 2050.
Veolia supports government initiatives to reduce emissions and backs the 2030 and 2050 targets. Our submission to the consultation highlighted the role landfill operators play to manage and extract value from society’s non-recyclable waste. Veolia expressed the view that no change should be made in phase one to the way the mechanism covers operators, with a view to more thorough, considered consultation in advance of phase 2.
Energy from waste
On 8 July, the NSW Government released the Protection of the Environment Operations (General) Amendment (Thermal Energy from Waste) Regulation 2022. The regulation makes explicit the locations in and circumstances by which energy from waste (EfW) facilities would be permitted in the state. Meanwhile, the Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) Bill in Victoria passed.
Veolia’s proposed Advanced Energy Recovery Facility is located in the Goulburn Mulwaree region, which has been identified by the NSW government as a priority area for this technology. Public exhibition of the environment impact statement for this project will shortly commence. Outside of NSW, Veolia remains committed to delivering the well-established, proven and safe technology by progressing with the build of Australia’s first 2 EfW facilities in Perth in East Rockingham and Kwinana. Veolia will be the country's first operator of the technology.
The defeat of proposed amendments in Victoria EfW legislation helps maintain momentum for the Maryvale EfW facility being developed by Veolia as part of a consortium of partners at a paper mill in the Latrobe Valley.