The HazWaste Fund (‘the Fund’) has ended. Launched in 2008 as a Victorian government initiative to limit pollution and waste, this scheme was designed to help reduce hazardous waste to landfill, or reclaim contaminated soil. Funding was provided by landfill levies collected from the disposal of hazardous waste and reinvested to provide positive net outcomes. Over the ten-year period of the Fund, $18 million was invested in private sector projects.
About hazardous waste
Prescribed industrial waste or PIW, hazardous waste involves anything dangerous to human health or the environment created as a by-product of manufacturing:
- waste oils/water, hydrocarbons/water mixtures, emulsions
- wastes from the production, formulation and use of resins, latex, plasticizers, glues/adhesives
- wastes resulting from surface treatment of metals and plastics
- residues arising from industrial waste disposal operations
- wastes which contain certain compounds such as copper, zinc, cadmium, mercury, lead and asbestos
- contaminated soil; and
- clinical waste.
Rationale behind the HazWaste Fund
Since it poses a risk to human health and the environment, PIW is something that all governments seek to control. In Victoria, this is largely achieved through enforcement of the Environment Protection Act 1970, along with the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009.
The bulk of these regulations relate to the management of PIW. They provide a framework for the transport, storage and disposal of hazardous waste, but provide no incentive – financial or otherwise – to minimise its production.
According to research both in Australia and overseas, reducing PIW is rarely a priority for businesses because:
- the health and environmental costs of reducing PIW are not priced in the market
- more effective practices are costly or likely to involve major change
- there is a lack of information about effective PIW-reduction strategies.
How the HazWaste Fund worked
The Fund was chiefly designed to attract and change the behavior of organisations that:
- generated PIW and disposed of it to landfill
- treated, recycled or reused PIW
- owned or were developing contaminated land.
Progress made by the HazWaste Fund projects
Many of the goals sought by the projects were designed to be effective on a long-term basis; and some of the others had no set end-point. The 98 projects funded fell into three basic categories:
- Infrastructure & implementation (or ‘I&I’: 35 projects).
- Research, development and demonstration (or ‘RDD’: 27 projects).
- Knowledge and capacity-building (or ‘KCB’: 36 projects).
In terms of short-term PIW reductions, the Fund ultimately saw some 900,000 tonnes of hazardous waste get diverted from landfill over ten years – or at least get treated in ways that made them less hazardous.
Financially speaking, the major benefits enjoyed by Fund recipients were reductions in operating costs and the avoided cost of storage and landfill. Where the financial benefit of reduced operating costs was insufficient to offset the costs of implementing the projects, the benefit of avoiding landfill was approximately enough to offset it.
A cost-benefit analysis of the projects that have already reduced PIW suggests a reasonable chance that they delivered a small net economic benefit. Or in other words, a reasonable chance that the overall (market and non-market) benefits of the projects either equaled or slightly outweighed their costs.
Of all the applicants surveyed, the ones who completed their projects were asked to list any additional benefits they may have enjoyed as a result of them. Their answers included:
- enhanced organisational reputation
- developed more efficient processes and operations
- developed innovative technology
- improved organisational knowledge
- enhanced sales or new markets
- improved staff satisfaction.
As part of an evaluation of the Fund, a survey was conducted with Fund recipients. The full evaluation report is available on request. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the survey, 71% of the projects would not have been undertaken at all were it not for the Fund. While the remaining 29% all said that their projects would have gone ahead at some stage, the financial support of the Fund ensured they could proceed with a more effective focus on results.
These environmental outcomes would not have otherwise come about without the use of funds acquired through landfill levies. The Fund was an investment not just in Victoria’s present but in its future.
Objectives of the fund
- Reduce hazardous waste to landfill
- Reduce the hazard category of hazardous waste disposed to landfill
- Increase remediation of contaminated soil.
Projects that were eligible for support
Support was available for projects targeted at reducing the volume or hazard of hazardous waste disposed to landfill, and increasing the remediation of contaminated soil. Eligible wastes included hazardous wastes from manufacturing processes and contaminated soil.
- Infrastructure and implementation projects.
- Research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects.
- Knowledge and capacity-building projects.
Level of funding that was available
Funding assessments were based on the financial needs of the project in light of the environmental benefits that would be achieved, and the level of support available from other funding sources.
Who was eligible to apply
The fund was open to a wide range of incorporated, or otherwise legally constituted applicants. Primary targets for the fund included organisations that undertook the following operations:
- generate and dispose solid hazardous waste to landfill
- generate and dispose solid or liquid hazardous waste to a treatment company
- treat, recycle, remediate or reuse hazardous wastes
- own or develop land that is partially or fully contaminated.
Other organisations that were eligible for HazWaste Fund support included:
- research organisations
- other funding agencies
- hazardous waste landfill owners and operators.
The fund featured a two-part application process.
The fund closed to stage 1 applications on 29 June 2012.
Applicants who submitted a stage 1 application prior to the closing date, and who were successful at stage 1, could submit a stage 2 application.
Stage 2 of the application process involved preparing a more detailed submission to the fund. This could, depending on the type of application, require a detailed business case such as:
- market research and analysis
- a marketing plan
- operational and financial plans
- an action plan with targets
- a monitoring framework including KPIs.
All applications were treated as confidential.
How funding applications were assessed
Once applications were submitted, they were reviewed by the HazWaste Fund panel. The panel provided advice to EPA on the proposal’s ability to meet the fund objectives. Specifically, advice considered the commercial, innovation, technical, and risk identification and mitigation aspects of applications.
In addition, EPA assessed the compliance performance of the applicant and any beneficial companies.
The process for funding decisions was as follows:
- EPA collated all applications for fund support.
- Applications were submitted to the panel for review.
- The panel reviewed applications and provided advice to the CEO of EPA.
- The CEO of EPA recommended funding decisions to the then-Minister for Environment and Climate Change, who made the final funding decision.
Panel members were comprised from a cross-section of industry and government sectors. Competencies of the panel ensure relevant knowledge and experience in areas pertaining to hazardous waste.
Who funding recipients signed a contract with
If a project application was successful, a funding agreement was prepared between the applicant and EPA. This covered details such as project milestones and payment, intellectual property management and reporting requirements.
Reviewed 3 September 2020