Waste Mass Balance Reporting: A vital tool needed to combat rogue waste operators

10 9, 2017

Visibility is one of the strongest tools we have in the fight to ensure waste is managed in a sustainable manner. Having the ability to track not only the types but also the quantities of waste within a Region’s waste and resource recovery sector can prove vital in combating key issues that plague waste regulators.

New South Wales EPA collects mass balance reporting through their Waste and Resource Reporting Portal and the EPA South Australia are now currently looking to implement a similar system.

The proposed EPA SA system would require waste facilities to report on the monthly tonnages of materials that the site receives, stockpiles, uses onsite or transfers from the site for sale or disposal. The mass balance reporting is seen as a "necessary tool for effectively identifying and responding to key issues and its establishment is supported as a high priority within the industry."

Waste Mass Balance Reporting is becoming essential for regulators to make informed policy decisions as they are able to analyse the movement and fate of waste materials as they move through waste facilities within their region. 


What exactly is Waste Mass Balance Reporting?

Waste Mass Balance Reporting requires all participants, typically licenced waste facilities and operators, to provide detailed quality data on the waste materials they receive and what is then done with them.

Having a Waste Mass Balance Reporting system in place provides the ability to account for all waste materials when they enter and travel through a system that is governed by waste regulations.  Waste materials are tracked up until the point where they leave the system - through being disposed of; recycled; recovered; or reused.

Mass Balance Reporting is crucial in identifying the flow of material and gaining access to insights that may have been previously unknown or difficult to measure without the use of this level of reporting.


key waste issues addressed through Mass Balance Reporting

1. Prevents static or growing stockpiles

Excessive stockpiling of waste materials, for too long a time or too much waste material, is a major concern for everyone as it can extremely negative effects on people’s health in the community and can present a growing environmental hazard in the future.

Mass Balance Reporting enables regulatory agencies to be more informed of the scale and nature of stockpiling across their region. This means they can learn more about the types of waste being stockpiled and better balance the reasonable need to stockpile verses excessive stockpiling by operators looking to avoid levy charges. It also allows regulators to receive early indicators of any issues or areas of concerns encouraging timely responses to any potential problems.

2. Helps identify levy avoidance through waste being disguised as a product

Some waste operators will claim stockpiled waste on their site has a purpose and therefore is a product set for reuse and recovery.

Mass Balance Reporting gives regulators greater visibility of the types of waste operators have on hand and helps them identify operators who are potentially disguising waste as a product for levy avoidance purposes.

3. Closer monitoring of materials prone to illegal dumping

Mass Balance Reporting enables closer monitoring of materials that are particularly prone to being illegally dumped in levy avoidance activities.Regulators can closely track these waste types and take quick action if they suddenly become unaccounted for or are being unnecessarily stockpiled. It also supports the collection of evidence needed by regulators to convict those who are practising levy avoidance strategies. 

Ultimately waste regulations are put in place to encourage waste operators to operate responsibility as well as to encourage innovation in the recovery and reuse sector. Giving waste regulators access to the types of information and detail that Mass Balance Reporting provides can be a vital component in ensuring these wider waste initiatives are achieved.

The statement ‘you can’t manage what you don’t know’ is perfectly matched to the needs to this sector. Having access to in-depth levels of information is essential in ensuring our waste is managed in a way that ensures a sustainable future for generations to come.


Case Study: Improving the management of Waste Data in NSW

FINNZ developed and implemented the WARRP system for NSW’s Environmental Protection Authority (NSW EPA) to monitor and track the waste within their state more closely.

The Waste and Resource Reporting Portal (WARRP) has provided the NSW EPA with greater visibility on the types of waste that are being stockpiled and areas where reuse and recovery efforts need to be focused. 

Read our case study to discover more about the system and how it has improved EPA’s operations and ensured the NSW waste levy could be collected and managed successfully.

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