Organics recycling and processing for compost producers
Guidelines are available to assist developers in the planning of a well-designed purpose built composting facility.
Facilities require planning consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Additional environmental protection licensing may also be required. The thresholds at which composting activities require an environment protection licence are contained in Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.
Further information is available in:
Operating a well managed composting facility
A well-operated composting facility with minimal environment impact can be an important asset to your community. However, poorly managed facilities can have significant impacts on air quality, water quality, litter and local amenity.
Guidelines to assist facilities to better manage their operations:
General guidance to help facilities develop process control systems to manufacture product of consistent quality with minimal environmental impact is also available.
Compost quality and Australian Standards
Manufacturing of quality compost that meets customer requirements is a necessary part of operating a successful organics recycling facility.
A number of voluntary industry standards published by Standards Australia have been produced to provide guidance to manufacturers.
Australian Standards relevant to recycled organics or compost are:
Organic materials received for recycling at licensed composting facilities need to comply with allowed materials specified in the facility's Environment Protection Licence and should be free of contaminants, such as glass, plastic, metal and other foreign materials.
Composting facilities should negotiate with generators of organic materials to ensure that materials have an acceptable level of contamination.
Preferred maximum limits for contamination in organic materials, such as garden organics, received for processing at composting facilities have been outlined in the Preferred Resource Recovery Practices by Local Councils.
Statutory requirements relating to the land application of compost products
Compost manufacturing facilities need to be aware of a range of statutory requirements that apply to the land application of compost products. These regulatory measures are in place to ensure human and animal health and the environment is protected when organic materials are applied to land.
The application of waste to land requires the authorisation of an Environmental Protection Licence or a Resource Recovery Exemption. Under clauses 51 and 51A of the Protection of the Environment Operations Waste Regulation 2005, the Environment Protection Authority has issued a series of general exemptions for commonly recovered, high-volume and well-characterised waste materials. General exemptions relevant to compost products are:
Where no general exemption is available for the intended use or waste, facility managers may apply for a specific exemption.
The use of an exempted material remains subject to all other relevant environmental regulations (such as planning, air and water regulations) and pollution offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. Adhering to the conditions of an exemption cannot be used as a defence against offenses, such as the pollution of land (section 142A) or water (section 120) and special requirements relating to asbestos waste (clause 42).
Users of resource recovery exemptions must still obtain the necessary planning consents and/or approvals from the appropriate regulatory authority.
For further information and assistance regarding licensing and the regulatory requirements that apply to the land application of waste, please contact the EPA's Environment Line on 131 555.
Market development work
A range of projects have been completed to assist in developing markets for compost products. A range of technical and market research studies and fact sheets are available:
More publications can be found on the Organic waste collection and recycling publications page.
Page last updated: 29 August 2012