Good environmental management is consistent with good business management. Consistent with the waste hierarchy, both aim to maximise the efficiency of raw material usage whilst minimising the consumption of energy, water and other inputs.
Sound environmental management helps to achieve triple bottom line (environmental/social/economic) benefits.
Controlling wastewater discharges
Industrial and commercial operations that can discharge significant amounts of wastewater to the environment are controlled by EPA’s works approval and licensing system. The system ensures that EPA reviews proposed works before they are constructed and that, when they are brought into service, their discharges are controlled by licence conditions.
EPA uses works approvals and licences to ensure industry minimises waste generation and only discharges treated wastes after all waste avoidance and minimisation options have been implemented.
Recycling wastewater can ease the pressure on our water resources and avoid the need to discharge wastewater to the environment. Recycled water can provide a defined quantity and quality of water that, with some management controls, is suitable for a wide range of uses, including irrigation and toilet flushing.
With increasing legislative and community expectations for sustainable development, there is increased interest in treating and recycling sewage. For more information on safe and sustainable wastewater recycling, refer to the following guidelines:
A by-product of the sewage treatment process, biosolids (appropriately treated sewage sludge) can make an important contribution to sustainable environmental management. They can be used to return organic material, trace elements, moisture and nutrients to our soils — thereby completing the natural nutrient cycle.
Where appropriate, land application is the preferred reuse option, for reasons described above. However, where this is not appropriate, biosolids can be used as a substitute for raw materials as geotechnical fill.
Biosolids can also be used for alternative purposes (for example, energy recovery); however, such schemes need to go through the works approval and licensing process
For more information on biosolids refer to the Australian and New Zealand Biosolids Partnership website.