Construction Site Waste Removal: What are your responsibilities?

Information for Sydney’s construction sites

With large amounts of waste comes large amounts of responsibility, especially when it comes to lawful transportation. Image via Shutterstock.

With large amounts of waste comes large amounts of responsibility, especially when it comes to lawful transportation. Image via Shutterstock.

Sydney is a city that is constantly developing and growing, with demolitions and constructions happening all of the time. Waste management is an important practice to maintain lawfully at construction and demolition sites in order to ensure that Sydney is kept clean and safe.

What’s defined as “waste”?

Waste isn’t just rubbish and unwanted site materials. Waste also includes excavated material such as dirt, sandstone and soil; construction, building and demolition waste such as asphalt, bricks, concrete, plasterboard, timber and vegetation; asbestos and contaminated soil.

How can you transport waste in a lawful manner?

As per Section 143 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, waste is required to be transported to a place that can lawfully accept it. Both the owner of the waste and the transporter are legally responsible for the lawful transportation of waste, so it’s important to do it properly. Simply relying on the advice of others – be they consultants, contractors or managers of waste facilities – may not be enough to ensure that your waste transportation methods are lawful.

Both the owner of the waste and the transporter of the waste are guilty of an offence when waste is transported to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility – if found guilty, both parties can be ordered to clean up and pay for the waste to be transported to a lawful waste facility.

 How can you avoid fines and penalties?

There are potentially big fines and penalties involved in unlawful waste dumping – if waste is found to be illegally dumped and, as a result, harms the environment, the maximum penalty is $5 million or 7 years jail.

According to the New South Wales Environment Protection Agency (EPA), being knowledgeable and diligent in keeping records is key. In their section on avoiding fines and penalties they have stated that you should:

  • Know what types of waste will be generated during excavation, demolition and construction.
  • Check the council development consent and environment protection licence for the waste facility to make sure they can lawfully accept the waste. Provide the waste facility with details of the waste (classification, origin and quantity).
  • Prepare and implement a waste management plan that includes:
    • details of, and the waste management action proposed for, each type of waste 
    • procedures that ensure the waste is transported to a lawful place
    • a description of the roles and responsibilities of everyone who manages the waste, including the site supervisor and sub-contractors.
  • The level of detail in the waste management plan should reflect the size and complexity of the project’s waste issues.
  • Regularly update the waste management plan to record how waste is managed and audit where waste is taken.
  • Provide adequate supervision to ensure waste management plans are implemented and complied with, and regularly audit everyone who manages waste on your behalf.
  • Provide training about the waste management plan and protecting the environment.
  • Keep accurate written records such as:
    • who transported the waste (company name, ABN, vehicle registration and driver details, date and time of transport, description of waste)
    • copies of waste dockets/receipts for the waste facility (date and time of delivery, name and address of the facility, its ABN, contact person).

You may be asked to supply information about your waste disposal practices at any time. The EPA states that you may be asked questions pertaining to:

  • its type, classification, characteristics, composition or quantity
  • its storage, transport, handling, transfer, disposal, processing, recycling, recovery, re-use or use
  • the hazards or potential harm to the environment or human health associated with waste or activities relating to waste.

Supplying false or misleading information about your waste transportation practices could see you receiving a penalty of up to $250,000.


If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy reading Why is a Bingo Bin the best skip for your construction site?.


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