Those who create priority waste must consider ways to avoid creating similar waste in future.

If you manage or control priority waste, you have a duty to take all reasonable steps to identify and assess alternatives to waste disposal. This means looking at options other than landfill, such as reusing or recycling waste.

When managing priority waste, you must:

  • consider alternatives to landfill
  • use relevant guidelines about alternate waste disposal options (see below)
  • follow the objectives of Chapter 6 of the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act), including:
    • the waste management hierarchy to minimise waste going to landfill
    • promoting waste reduction, resource recovery and resource efficiency.

It’s your obligation to take reasonably practicable steps to keep priority waste separated for recycling, reprocessing or reuse.

Taking reasonable steps

Under the Act, you must take reasonable steps to find alternatives to landfill. This includes considering:

1. Relevant guidelines or publications for the waste you work with, such as information from:

2. Any relevant technology used in resource recovery. Ways to find out about available technology include:

  • contacting waste industry associations, Sustainability Victoria or your Regional Waste Management Group
  • attending local waste expos and conferences.

3. Advice from a person or body with relevant expertise, such as:

  • accredited consigners
  • environment consultants
  • process engineers who can review your manufacturing processes to help you create less waste
  • your industry association.

Keep a record of the steps you take to help show how you complied with this duty.

Applying the waste management hierarchy

A simple way to find options other than landfill is to use the waste management hierarchy.

The waste management hierarchy lists a preferred order for managing waste. Avoidance, at the top of the hierarchy, is the most preferred option. Sending waste to landfill is at the bottom of the hierarchy.

You can use the hierarchy to consider ways to avoid or minimise creating waste in the first place, before looking at options like recycling or landfill. Before sending waste to landfill, consider opportunities higher up the hierarchy to:

  • avoid creating waste
  • reduce the amount of waste you create
  • reuse waste
  • recycle waste
  • generate energy or extract valuable materials from waste
  • contain waste.

Avoiding landfill can have financial benefits, as well as environmental benefits. Financial benefits include reduced costs for raw materials and waste disposal.

When to investigate alternatives to landfill

Look for other options whenever your business creates, manages or controls a new priority waste.

If your business often creates the same type of waste, you only need to assess alternatives to landfill when:

  • the composition of the waste changes
  • you become aware of new technologies or opportunities
  • the cost of disposal increases
  • alternatives to waste disposal become cheaper
  • replacing or investing in a new plant and equipment.

You should investigate other options from time to time, even if none of these triggers occur.

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Reviewed 30 March 2021