Landfills are an important part of Victoria’s waste management infrastructure. The siting, management and rehabilitation of landfills requires a high level of design and management to ensure that the environment is protected and community aspirations are met.
While disposal of materials to landfill is the least preferred management option for waste, landfills will continue to be required to manage those wastes that cannot be practically removed from the waste stream. Today’s landfills must not leave an unacceptable environmental legacy for our children to address. As long as landfilling remains part of our waste management strategy, best-practice measures must be adopted to ensure that landfills are acceptable to the public.
In Victoria, only one landfill is licensed to accept Category B prescribed industrial waste. Other landfills across the state are licensed to accept certain Category C (low-hazard) prescribed industrial wastes – for example, low-level contaminated soil, packaged asbestos and odorous wastes such as seafood processing wastes.
We are auditing landfill levy statements.
EPA’s role in landfill management
EPA sets the standards for what type of waste an existing landfill can accept. All prescribed industrial wastes intended for landfill disposal must be classified into one of three categories, depending on the level of hazard. Category A is the highest hazard and Category C is the lowest hazard. Category A wastes must be treated and can not be accepted at any landfill.
EPA requires financial assurances from landfill operators/owners and any sites which accept any prescribed waste for the purposes of reprocessing, treatment, storage or disposal; or which generate and then reprocess, treat, store or dispose of certain wastes.
Financial assurances are intended to provide a guarantee that the costs of remediation, site closure and post-closure liabilities are not borne by the community if the occupiers of the premises abandon the site, become insolvent or incur clean-up costs beyond their financial capacity.
Licensing and approval
A works approval must be obtained before a landfill can be constructed, except for municipal landfills serving a population of fewer than 500 people. A licence under the Environment Protection Act is required for all landfills, apart from municipal landfills serving a population of fewer than 5000 people. The licence sets the performance objectives for the operating landfill, defines operating parameters and requires monitoring to check on environmental performance.
Landfill levies are levies paid on all waste disposed of at licensed landfills in Victoria. Levy funds are used exclusively for environment protection activities, including promoting the sustainable use of resources and best practices in waste management.
The landfill levy structure reflects the difference in the magnitude of environmental risk posed by the different waste streams and also seeks to accommodate regional differences. Levies also provide an incentive to minimise the generation of waste, sending a signal to industry that the Government supports efforts to develop alternatives to disposal to landfill.
Until 30 June 2015, all landfill levies were paid into the Environment Protection Fund. Money received from Municipal & Industrial landfill levies was distributed by EPA in accordance with the Environment Protection (Distribution of Landfill Levy) Regulations 2010.
From 1 July 2015, following the enactment of the Environment Protection and Sustainability Victoria Amendment Act 2014, EPA has passed on all Municipal & Industrial landfill levies it collects to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), which has taken over responsibility for distributing funds to regional waste and resource recovery groups (RWRRGs), Sustainability Victoria and EPA. DELWP also administers levy funds allocated by the Premier and the Minister for Environment and Climate Change through the Sustainability Fund (Sustainability Victoria).
Find out more about landfill levies
Landfill gas assessment
All operators of licensed landfill sites across Victoria must undertake a landfill gas risk assessment, put in place an environmental monitoring program verified by an EPA-appointed environmental auditor and have regular environmental audits. Operators are required to implement audit recommendations through the issuing of an enforcement notice, to ensure risks are kept at an acceptably low level.
The requirements for these risk assessments are set out in the guideline Best practice environmental management – Siting, design, operation and rehabilitation of landfills (publication 788 – the Landfill BPEM). Owners of closed landfill sites may also have to undertake the same work under an enforcement notice.