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EPA shake-up; States fall short on renewables targets; Free waste assessments

New EPA chair Carolyn Walsh
New EPA chair Carolyn Walsh

NSW splits key EPA roles

In a move that has twice been recommended by NSW parliamentary inquiries, the Berejiklian government has split the roles of chair and chief executive of the state's EPA.

The new acting chair of the EPA board is Carolyn Walsh, who is also the chair of the National Transport Commission board.

Walsh was the inaugural chief executive of NSW's Independent Transport Safety and Reliability Regulator (from 2004 to 2009), and has previously worked with the NSW EPA on risk and regulation matters.

Mark Gifford will continue as the EPA's acting chief executive.

The separation of the two roles accords with recommendations made by state parliamentary inquiries in 2018 and 2015 (see background here).

The opposition Labor Party also committed to splitting the two positions, before the March state election (see background here).

Queensland and NSW falling short of clean energy targets

Queensland and NSW must both significantly increase levels of renewable energy generation to meet their clean energy targets, according to a new analysis by Green Energy Markets.

The energy consultancy says that on current trends renewables will account for about 28% of overall electricity consumption in NSW, significantly below the 46% required to reach net-zero power sector emissions by 2050.

"To bridge the gap, it requires close to an additional 5,000MW of new renewable energy project commitments by 2030," the GEM analysis says.

Queensland is also set to fall short of its target of 50% renewables by 2030, GEM says.

Current commitments and rooftop solar growth will get it to only 29.2% and it requires another 4,500MW of projects, GEM says.

In contrast, Victoria is already close to its 2025 target of generating 40% of its power from renewables by 2025, and is within striking distance of its 2030 target of 50% renewables.

"It would only need a further two renewable energy contracting rounds similar in scale to the one it concluded in 2018 and it will have bridged the gap to its 2030 target," GEM says.

South Australia is expected to be generating renewable energy equal to 73.5% of its consumption by 2030, up from 53% in 2018.

To achieve the SA government's target of 100% renewables it roughly needs another 1,300MW, the report says.

Free waste assessments on offer

The NSW EPA has reminded businesses that its long-running Bin Trim program is still offering tailored strategies to cut waste bills, as well as equipment subsidies.

One of the biggest surprises for many businesses is the large savings that can be made just by reducing the number of waste collections, according to Amanda Kane, EPA acting director of resource recovery.

Better employee engagement can also play an important role in reducing the amount of material thrown into waste bins, Kane says.

The Bin Trim program funds assessors to give businesses with fewer than 400 employees a free waste assessment and action plan.

The assessor also advises on possible equipment rebates of up to $50,000, and conducts a follow-up check to measure progress.

Scheme participants include the Escarpment Group, owner of the landmark Hydromajestic Hotel, which has installed food macerators at three of its properties with the assistance of $127,000 in Bin Trim funding.

The macerators pulp the waste food, enabling it to be used as fertiliser.

The Paramount Hotel in the Sydney suburb of Surry Hills used a $35,000 Bin Trim rebate to help buy an organic waste recycling machine, and is now diverting 53,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill annually.

The Paramount also compacts general waste for transfer to a waste-to-energy plant, instead of sending it to landfill.

Since its launch in 2014, Bin Trim has provided waste assessment services to more than 22,000 businesses and diverted more than 70,000 of tonnes of waste from landfill, the EPA says.

NSW, Queensland, SA, Victoria, Renewables, low emissions, Resource efficiency, waste, Grants, finance

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