Standards, compliance and planning

Composting guidance

Designing, constructing and operating composting facilities (publication 1588) provides information on composting operators’ obligations under laws administered by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) and provides suggestions on how to comply. Specifically, it:

  • provides composting operators with advice on how to design, construct and manage composting facilities in a manner that protects human health and the environment in Victoria
  • will be used to inform EPA decision making for facilities that require research, design and demonstration approvals, works approvals and licences
  • will be used by EPA as a guide for how premises could resolve issues of non-compliance.

The scope is restricted to composting processes only. It does not cover anaerobic digestion, vermiculture, dehydration or the composting of contaminated wastes for the purpose of bioremediation.

The new publication is a revised version of the draft guideline (publication 1577), which was released for public comment between 5 September and 10 October 2014. Forty submissions were received and these were considered in finalising the guideline.

The table below sets out the key themes from public submissions received and EPA’s responses to them.

Sumary of comment EPA response
Provide clarity on what the legal requirements are and what the recommendations are for composting. The final guideline has been restructured and the language changed to clearly articulate which are the legal requirements and which are recommendations.
Provide clear reference to Australian Standard 4454–2012, Composts, soil conditioners and mulches, and utilise the standard for compliance. EPA makes reference to AS4454–2012 and also replicates the relevant components in the composting guideline. AS4454–2012 is a manufacturing standard and not an environmental compliance standard and therefore it is not appropriate for EPA to require compliance with the whole standard.
Clearly articulate EPA’s interpretation of the current schedule category for composting ‘designed to, or has a capacity to, process more than 100 tonnes of waste per month’. The final guideline includes a statement on EPA’s interpretation of the 100-tonnes-per-month threshold, and also provides clarity on the different requirements for processing of onsite wastes and offsite wastes.

The risk ranking of feedstocks is not consistent with operators ‘on-ground’ experience and changes need to be made to enable a more risk-based response on a case-by-case basis.

Recommended changes included the following:

  • Separate out the liquid organic wastes into different categories.
  • Increase or decrease the risk rating of manures.
  • Reduce the risk rating of commingled food organics and garden organics (FOGO).
  • Include biosolids in the table.
  • Align with waste codes.

The risk categorisation of various wastes has been altered in the final guideline:

  • Grease interceptor trap waste has been separated from the rest of the liquid wastes.
  • Manure has been separated in to two categories (aged manure and manure).
  • FOGO has been moved to category 3.
  • Biosolids have been included in the table.

A description of the relevant waste codes and when they are appropriate to use has been included in the guideline.

The section on the sealed surfaces and liquid mixing pit is too prescriptive. The guideline has been adjusted to remove the overly prescriptive components and to only provide suggestions on how to comply with SEPP(WoV), SEPP(GoV) and SEPP(PMCL).
The guideline needs to be clear on the greenhouse gas emissions requirements for facilities; for example, what parts of the composting operation are covered by the emissions requirements. The protocol for environmental anagement (PEM) for greenhouse gas emissions outlines the legal requirements for facilities. The guideline has been updated to clearly articulate the components of the PEM that facilities need to comply with.

Page last updated on 12 Mar 2015