This information aims to provide guidance for all PFAS-impacted materials, including contaminated water, soils, sediments and other solid materials (solid or liquid PFAS-impacted wastes).
Due to the current national and international focus on PFAS, EPA anticipates that the government and waste management and technology sectors will respond to the current challenges, and more waste management options will become available over time. In the interim, this information aims to provide guidance to duty holders who have current requirements to manage PFAS-impacted wastes. This guidance is based on the PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) to ensure a nationally collaborative and consistent approach to the management of PFAS.
What can I do with solid waste (e.g. contaminated soils, demolition waste and other solid industrial wastes) impacted by PFAS?
The hierarchy of treatment and remediation options outlined in the PFAS NEMP should be followed when considering options for the management of PFAS impacted solid waste. The NEMP outlines the following hierarchy:
- Separation, treatment and destruction: on-site or off-site treatment of the contamination so that it is destroyed, removed or the associated risk is reduced to an acceptable level.
- Onsite encapsulation in engineered facilities with/without immobilisation: if the source site is hygrogeographically appropriate, onsite encapsulation will acceptably manage risk to the on-and off-site beneficial uses (direct and indirect) for soils, surface water and groundwater.
- Offsite removal to a specific landfill cell: leachate should be captured, treated and the removed PFAS destroyed. This may or may not include immobilisation prior to landfill disposal, noting that the conditions in the landfill may reverse or diminish the immobilisation chemistry in ways that are difficult to predict. Immobilisation prior to landfill disposal may require approval from EPA.
EPA seeks to minimise PFAS in the environment wherever possible. More information on the classification of wastes impacted by PFAS to land can be found in the NEMP.
Please refer to the Interim position statement on PFAS (publication 1669) for further information on EPA’s interim position on the use of soil which may contain PFAS. EPA has adopted an interim criterion for the reuse of soil which may contain PFAS based on a limit of reporting (LOR) of 0.004mg/kg (4µg/kg), broken down as follows:
- PFOS <0.002 mg/kg
- PFHxS <0.001 mg/kg
- PFOA <0.001 mg/kg
This approach to PFAS-impacted soil for reuse is a conservative approach based on current understanding of science and risk. These values are adopted in the interim until such time that further work may support revisions. These values have been adopted in EPA Designation – Classification of PFAS impacted soil. Soil that is only contaminated with PFAS with concentrations set out in this designation (below the PFAS LORs) is classified by EPA as fill material.
Yes, though it is not the preferred management option. The hierarchy of treatment and remediation options outlined in the PFAS NEMP should be followed when considering options for the management of PFAS impacted solid waste. EPA recommends you minimise the volumes of PFAS-impacted solid wastes wherever possible. More information on the classification of wastes impacted by PFAS to land can be found in the NEMP. Please also refer to the Interim position statement on PFAS (publication 1669) for further information on PFAS impacted soil.
In some instances, if there are no other possible management options available, PFAS-impacted solid waste may be disposed of to landfill through a designation application (see below for further information). EPA considers PFAS-impacted wastes to be Reportable Priority Waste (RPW). In determining whether PFAS-impacted material can be accepted at landfill EPA will give consideration to the landfill acceptance criteria detailed in the NEMP.
EPA may arrange an initial meeting to discuss the classification process, and for EPA to gain understanding of the waste stream. EPA will specify what data is required and may request additional information where necessary. Soil that is only contaminated with PFAS with concentrations below the PFAS LORs does not need a classification from EPA.
Refer to How to start using Waste Tracker. The waste code (M270) and treatment codes are used in EPA-issued licenses to specify how PFAS waste can be treated or disposed of. A designation application must be submitted to EPA for approval prior to disposal of any PFAS-impacted solid waste at concentrations exceeding the thresholds in EPA Designation – Classification of PFAS impacted soil.
Treatment options for PFAS-impacted wastes are very limited in Australia. This is due to the chemical characteristics of PFAS and because the chemicals are relatively new contaminants of concern.
In general, thermal treatment of PFAS via high temperature incineration seems to be the best treatment option. EPA is aware of several facilities that have this capability.
If a waste disposal contractor advises you that it can treat PFAS waste, EPA recommends you check that the company can demonstrate its ability to effectively destroy or permanently capture PFAS. If you’re uncertain, you can contact EPA on 1300 372 842 or email your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. EPA is consulting with waste treatment and disposal industries to identify companies that can appropriately treat PFAS wastes.
If you are a waste disposal contractor and you are treating PFAS, you should read the rest of this page, then contact EPA immediately to discuss your obligations. Contact EPA on 1300 372 842 or email your query to email@example.com. EPA will probably ask you to provide evidence to demonstrate that your treatment is effective.
PFAS-impacted liquid wastes cannot yet be treated through common trade waste treatment processes, as these processes do not effectively capture or destroy PFAS. PFAS-impacted liquid wastes require specialist treatment to capture and destroy PFAS contaminants. If waste is not treated appropriately the PFAS is likely to be discharged to the environment.
When discussing options for the treatment of PFAS-impacted liquid wastes, EPA recommends that you question whether the technologies used will capture the PFAS and how the captured PFAS will be managed. Treatment companies should be able to provide you with details of their process, what percentage of the PFAS is captured and how the captured PFAS is managed or destroyed.
If you are a waste disposal contractor and you are treating PFAS, you should read the rest of this page then contact EPA immediately to discuss your obligations. Contact EPA on 1300 372 842 or email your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. EPA will probably ask you to demonstrate that your treatment is effective.
At present, EPA Victoria does not believe disposal of PFAS-impacted liquid waste (such as Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF)) to sewer is a suitable option, as the PFAS is likely to be released into waterways or contaminate biosolid wastes. We recommend that any PFAS-impacted liquids first be treated to capture and remove the PFAS prior to discharge to sewer.
If you propose to dispose of PFAS-containing liquids to sewer via trade waste, you must seek approval from the relevant water authority. You must make it explicit to the water authority that the liquid waste contains PFAS. The water authority may require information about the concentrations of PFAS in the liquid and the proposed treatment of this waste to capture and remove the PFAS prior to discharge to sewer, to determine if this discharge is acceptable.
Sampling and analysis of landfill leachate by EPA Victoria has found that leachate disposal to sewer contributes minor amounts of PFAS to the overall PFAS loading within the sewer (study scheduled for release). See PFAS in the environment and EPA's Interim position statement on PFAS (publication 1669) for further information. At present, and on this basis, EPA Victoria does not believe that landfill leachate should be restricted from being discharged to sewer. We recommend ongoing sampling and analysis of PFAS concentrations in leachate from all landfills to continue to assess PFAS trends. Where a landfill exhibits PFAS concentrations elevated beyond the range found in the study by EPA Victoria or discharges very large volumes of leachate to sewer containing PFAS within the range found in the study, treatment to remove PFAS must be considered and the water authority must be consulted.
The interstate movement of PFAS-contaminated solid and liquid wastes is regulated under the National Environment Protection (Movement of Controlled Waste between States and Territories) Measure (NEPM).
If you propose to move PFAS-contaminated wastes out of Victoria, a consignment authorisation must be obtained from the relevant agency in the receiving state or territory jurisdiction. You must also comply with all other relevant regulatory requirements, such as transport permits, waste transport certificates and any approvals that are required from EPA for the transport of waste interstate.
In addition to the NEPM, any person wanting to transport solid (including soil) prescribed industrial waste (PIW) from Victoria to another state or territory must obtain prior approval from EPA Victoria under r.26 of the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009. Waste transport forms are on our website.
Wastes going interstate for destruction or deposit must go to a facility with equivalent or better environmental performance standards than what is available in Victoria. Unless interstate jurisdictions provide confirmation to EPA Victoria that they are willing to receive PFAS-contaminated solid waste, interstate movements will not be approved.
Yes, under certain circumstances and where EPA approvals are met. As a signatory of the National Environment Protection (Movement of Controlled Waste between States and Territories) Measure (NEPM), EPA Victoria checks if a valid consignment authorisation is held by the consignor when transporting PFAS into Victoria. Any consignors sending waste to Victorian facilities will be asked to prove that the receiving facility can destroy or capture PFAS.
How can I best manage PFAS-impacted soils, sediments and industrial wastes when there are limited options for treatment or disposal?
The PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) provides further information on the preferred hierarchy of treatment and remediation options. EPA recommends you minimise the volumes of PFAS-impacted soils, sediments or industrial wastes wherever possible. The NEMP hierarchy should be followed where possible. Also refer to the Interim position statement on PFAS (publication 1669) for further information on PFAS impacted material.
It may be appropriate to store PFAS-impacted soils, sediments and industrial wastes onsite, either temporarily or for the longer term, to minimise the risk of PFAS becoming mobilised and to prevent environmental impact. EPA expects that long-term storage will require consideration of the various pathways for the migration of the PFAS into the environment to inform the long-term management options. This may include construction of a purpose-built containment facility. The NEMP provides further information regarding onsite storage and containment of PFAS-impacted material.
Is the treatment or storage of PFAS-impacted waste subject to requirements under the Environment Protection Regulations 2021?
Yes. Please complete and submit EPA’s Pathway approvals form detailing the proposed treatment and/or storage activities, and EPA will advise what approval (if any) is required.
Regardless of the outcome of this process, EPA will work with you to ensure PFAS-impacted wastes are managed appropriately to protect the environment and human health.
I’m currently licensed to accept waste codes that typically include PFAS waste (e.g., N140, M250). Can I accept PFAS waste?
The PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) recommends a landfill acceptance criteria and new waste code, M270, which has been adopted in Victoria following the commencement of the Environment Protection Act 2017.
Landfill disposal of solid waste containing PFAS (that is not soil only containing PFAS at concentrations below the thresholds in EPA Designation – Classification of PFAS impacted soil) must only occur after submitting a designation application to EPA for approval. If your facility is currently accepting PFAS-contaminated waste under a general waste code, please contact EPA immediately to discuss your obligations. Contact EPA on 1300 372 842 or email your query to email@example.com.
If you are at a water authority and you are accepting PFAS-containing trade waste, you should read the rest of this page then contact EPA immediately to discuss your obligations. Contact EPA on 1300 372 842 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
EPA will ask you to demonstrate that your treatment is effective. The PFAS contamination is also likely to impact your ability to reuse your biosolids in the future.
Refer to the PFAS NEMP and the draft PFAS NEMP 2.0 which provides a section on reuse of PFAS contaminated materials. Also refer to the Interim position statement on PFAS (publication 1669) for further information on PFAS impacted soil. Please refer to these documents prior to contacting EPA to discuss appropriate reuse options. Additionally, where soil meets the requirements set out in EPA Designation - Classification of PFAS impacted soils, the soil will be classified as fill material.
This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 10 October 2019.
Reviewed 29 August 2022