Farmers are set to be stopped from using ordinary household garbage collected from red-top bins as fertiliser over concerns of plastic contamination under a new EPA recommendation.
The Environment Protection Authority revoked permits that had allowed the production of so-called mixed waste organic outputs (MWOO) last October. Industry fears that temporary revocation will be made permanent within weeks.
As a result, more than 100,000 tonnes of the material drawn from "red-top" kerbside household bins has been diverted to landfill rather than spread on farms. Ordinary household garbage in those red-top bins was previously being sorted for organic material that could be on-sold to farms.
The EPA suspended that part of the industry after releasing an independent review of Alternative Waste Treatment. The report found existing rules that restricted the application of refined waste at 10 tonnes per hectare "could not be classified as beneficial reuse" in terms of improving farm output or soil quality.
The mulch in its "current form", was "not suitable for use on broadacre agricultural soils" because of residual metals, plastics and glass contaminants, it found.
However, the Australian Council of Recycling representing firms such as Suez and Veolia, has highlighted the EPA's own finding that "the use of mixed waste organic material on [farmland] is unlikely to present any health risk to the general public" to demand its use to be permitted.
"It's a test for the minister," Pete Shmigel, the council's chief executive, said, "NSW has the chance under [Energy and Environment Minister Matt] Kean to shift its approach to actively supporting recycled products, not only regulating them sometimes bluntly and without transparent.
"Otherwise, more material goes to landfill, recycling targets are not achieved, jobs will be lost and millions [of dollars] squandered."
Mr Kean, who last week flagged his intention to tackle plastic waste "head on" as the state's container deposit scheme passed two billion bottles and cans returned in just 19 months, said the decision on organic outputs was for the EPA to decide.
“Before making any regulatory changes, the EPA will consult industry, councils, and sectors that historically used MWOO," he said.
“My top priority as Minister for the Environment is to protect both human healRead More – Source