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What is construction and demolition waste?
Construction and demolition (C&D) activities generate a wide range of industrial waste materials including:
- excavated material such as rock and soil
- waste asphalt, bricks, concrete, plasterboard, timber and vegetation
- asbestos and contaminated soil.
If not managed responsibly, these waste streams can pollute the environment, pose a public health risk (particularly asbestos and contaminated soil) and pose amenity issues. This costs Victorians over $30 million per year to clean up.
How to dispose of C&D waste
Under section 27A(2) of the Environment Protection Act 1970 (EP Act), any person (including a waste generator, transporter or receiver) who dumps or permits the inappropriate disposal of industrial waste at a place that cannot lawfully accept that waste type faces a fine of more than $7500, or up to $777,300 (5000 penalty units) if prosecuted. EPA can require the waste generator, transporter and receiver to clean up and pay for waste to be taken to a lawful place.
In 2016, a West Wimmera man spent almost $100,000 cleaning up construction and demolition waste that he had accepted on three local farms. The cost of lawful disposal would have been $15,000.
To find a facility near you that can accept industrial waste, such as a landfill, transfer station or recycling facility, contact your local council or regional waste management group.
As a waste generator, you are legally responsible for ensuring waste is taken to a facility that can lawfully accept it. You cannot rely on the word of others, such as waste transporters, sub-contractors or managers of waste facilities. Waste receipt dockets from an approved waste disposal facility are your only guarantee that waste from your site is going to the right place.
As a waste transporter, it’s your responsibility to know what type of waste you’re transporting and that the disposal location can lawfully accept it. Relying on advice from others, such as consultants, contractors or managers of waste facilities is no defence for taking waste to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility.
Individual landowners who accept industrial waste such as bricks and concrete onto their land may find themselves liable to fines, prosecution and hefty clean-up costs. Once the waste is on your property, it is your responsibility.
EPA and local councils will not clean up waste for private landowners or occupiers of private land.
Tips for managing C&D waste
- Know what types of waste will be generated during excavation, demolition and construction.
- If a quote for managing waste is low, find out why. The company may be avoiding costs by taking the waste to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility.
- While not a requirement, preparing and implementing a waste management plan ahead of demolition is an effective way of managing lawful waste disposal. A good plan would include:
- details of each type of waste that will be generated, and the management action proposed for each type of waste
- procedures that ensure the waste is dispose of at a lawful place
- a description of the roles and responsibilities of everyone who manages the waste, including the site supervisor and subcontractors.
- The level of detail in the waste management plan should reflect the size and complexity of the project's waste issues.
- Regularly update the waste management plan to record how waste is managed and audit where waste is taken.
- Provide adequate supervision to ensure waste management plans are implemented and complied with, and regularly audit everyone who manages waste on your behalf.
- Provide training about the waste management plan and protecting the environment.
- Keep accurate written records such as:
- who transported the waste (company name, ABN, vehicle registration and driver details, date and time of transport, description of waste)
- copies of waste receipts from the waste facility (date and time of delivery, name and address of the facility, its ABN, contact person).
Supplying information about waste
At any time, you can be asked to supply information about your waste. Ensure all relevant information is disclosed, such as:
- waste assessment and categorisation reports, including sampling methodologies and laboratory analysis for potentially harmful materials such as contaminated soil
- written procedures and plans for managing waste, including handling and storage procedures, and incident response plans
- development applications, including waste management plans
- site assessments including contaminated site assessments, and environmental and geotechnical studies.
The maximum penalty for supplying false or misleading information about waste to EPA is $373,104.
Reporting suspected illegal dumping
Reducing large-scale dumping of industrial waste (including construction and demolition waste) is a priority for EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce program.
If you suspect someone is handling waste unlawfully or illegally dumping waste, call 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) or complete EPA’s confidential illegal dumping intelligence form.