Recycling: When waste is not waste

Material being transported may not be defined as waste if wanted for another purpose.

In a decision that has implications for those in the recycling and resource recovery industries, a court has found that material that may be waste can be lawfully transported if it is intended for another purpose.

In the case before the court, a company had been hired by a couple to transport 680 tonnes of fill material for use in constructing a road on their 20 hectare rural property. The fill material included crushed rock, broken bricks, tiles, concrete and other inert material from demolition or excavation works.

Under environmental laws, it is an offence to transport and deposit waste material at a place that is not a waste facility.

The court found that despite being the product of demolition, the material was specifically wanted for the purpose of road construction and therefore was not waste. It said that the fact that the original party that discarded the material did not want it did not alone cause it to be waste.

Relevant to the court’s consideration was the fact that the material had been separated from other material resulting from demolition, which had been treated as waste and transported to a waste facility.