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Over October and November, WMRR has been actively advocating on behalf of industry across a range of significant policy, operational, and regulatory challenges to meet the diverse needs of our members.
EXPORT REGULATIONS - MIXED PAPER AND CARDBOARD
From 1 July 2024 a licence will be required for mixed paper and cardboard export. Exporters will not be required to demonstrate commercial relationships with importers. From 1 July 2026 a 5% contamination threshold will be introduced and will not decrease. The two (2) year transition period also allows time for operators to transition and upgrade. It is WMRR’s understanding that the rules will be released early in 2024.
WMRR is continuing discussions with DCCEEW in relation to the need to streamline the licensing and amendments process. The looming number of existing licence renewals for early to mid-2024, coinciding with the paper and cardboard export rules commencement, has also been raised.
DCCEEW advised they are still reviewing the submissions received in July on the proposed national e-waste scheme. WMRR and others met recently with the Department and regrettably there is still no certainty or scope of scheme design, despite significant time passing and resources deployed to date! Of biggest concern was the continued grey area as to how/where embedded battery products would be managed/addressed as they are currently outside scope of B-cycle and unclear as to what specifically is in this scheme.
On 1 November 2023 the container deposit scheme commenced in Victoria with recent Act amendments resolving some of the regulation issues (including fourth bin glass beneficiation). The wine and spirit bottle expansion also started in Queensland on 1 November 2023. WA is currently consulting with its stakeholder group on increased scope to include these and the NT has committed without a date. SA has advised it is currently drafting legislation for new governance arrangements that it will consult on shortly. There is no official update on the Tasmanian scheme.
The mandatory packaging design and scheme design continues to be prepared by DCCEEW, however, it did not appear on the Environment Ministers Meeting 9 November 2023 agenda. WMRR understands there will be public consolation on the scheme proposal in the first half of 2024.
WMRR has also joined the treated timber product stewardship steering group.
To date there continues to be no update on the PFAS NEMP 3.0. WMRR, along with WRIQ and AORA, have written to the Queensland Minister for the Environment on the inability for the sector to meet the one (1) parts per billion requirements for compost output under the proposed model operating conditions, when everyday items on the market are thousand parts per billion. WMRR is meeting with DES to progress this ongoing issue.
VAPES AND BATTERIES
WMRR is acutely aware of the importance of this issue and the impact battery fires are having on facilities and trucks. We are continuing with social media campaigns and working with others to continue to enforce that these do not belong in bins, including developing a real scheme for all vapes. At the 9 November 2023 Environment Ministers Meeting, Queensland took responsibility for reviewing pathways/product stewardship for batteries/products with embedded batteries, which we have met with. Victoria is also currently looking at the risk of fires on sites and what can be done to assist with eliminating these.
WMRR understands the urgency and risk that this issue poses to industry and will continue to push for real action.
EfW regulations for existing operators is underway, however industry does not as yet have the regulation for how the cap will be allocated to new proposed operators. However, the Act has been amended to place a new periodic charge on any new EfW facilities, to cover the cost of regulation, assuming we ever get to see it and use it.
The inaugural CERC plan has been developed for implementation in 2024, we also understand the Recycling Victoria progressing the VRIP.
DCCEEW are developing six (6) Net Zero sector plans with the first Agriculture and Land Sectoral Plan, open for consultation until 13 December 2023. Although the circular economy is mentioned WMRR hopes to see deeper nuances captured in all sector plans.
We are very sad to see Michelle Andrews resign as DG of DWER. We think she was having a positive impact on refreshing the Department and implementing reform. Here is hoping that her replacement shows as much zeal in continuing this given there is so much still to do!