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Beneficial use approvals

The Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 promotes higher resource recovery and recycling rates and aims to transform the perception of waste from being seen as ‘waste’ to being valued as a ‘resource’.

A waste can be approved as a resource if the department considers that it has a beneficial use other than disposal.

If a waste is approved as a resource, it is no longer considered a waste under s. 13 of Environmental Protection Act 1994.

What is a beneficial use approval

An approval of a resource for beneficial use (otherwise known as a beneficial use approval) is given where it is considered that a waste has a beneficial use. In approving a waste, conditions under which the resource is to be used are often imposed on the approval holder.

The guideline Approval of a resource for beneficial use—ESR/2015/1626 (formerly EM1719) (PDF, 67K) provides further information on:

  • beneficial use approvals including who can make an application;
  • when an application should be made;
  • how to make an application;
  • what is to be included in an application; and
  • amending or transferring an approval and cancellation or suspension of an approval.

NOTE: Beneficial use approvals are not related to environmental authorities issued for environmentally relevant activities under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. An environmental authority will still need to be obtained where required.

Wastes that can be approved

Only wastes that have a beneficial use can be approved. A beneficial use can be demonstrated in circumstances where:

  • the proposed use is conceptually proven in generally accessible information;
  • the proposed use occurs as an existing commercial activity;
  • there is an existing need or demand for the proposed use;
  • the use of the resource is ‘fit for purpose’; and
  • most of the resource is used beneficially without significant amounts of residual contaminants.

It is often not necessary for wastes other than regulated wastes (listed in Schedule 7 of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 (PDF)) to have an approval to be reused. It is important however to contact the department prior to making an application to help identify if any approvals are needed.

The following are some examples of wastes that can be approved as a resource:

  • Concrete washout wastes
  • Biosolids
  • Foundry sand
  • Fly/bottom ash and other coal combustion products
  • Coal seam gas water

Benefits of an approval

Approving a waste as a resource can have the following benefits:

  • Approvals relating to regulated waste are not required.
  • Costs of disposing the waste to landfill are reduced.
  • Costs of using raw materials are reduced.
  • Reuse of the waste may have a monetary value.

Types of beneficial use approvals

General approvals

General approvals are instigated and issued by the department and cannot be applied for. Anyone can operate under a general approval that has been issued provided they are using the resource in accordance with the conditions of the approval.

The following general beneficial use approvals have been issued:

The form Notification of use of a resource—ESR/2015/1638 (formerly EM1315) (Word, 106K)* should be submitted by persons wishing to operate under a general approval. In some approvals, it is a requirement that operators notify prior to starting or within a stated period under the approval.

Specific approvals

A specific approval is an approval of a resource of which only a stated person has the benefit. Specific approvals are those which a company or individual may apply for specifically relating to their proposed activity.

Amending or transferring an approval

The holder of a specific approval may apply to transfer or amend the approval at any time. A transfer application must contain the signed consent of the proposed transferee. An amendment application must state the amendment sought and the reasons for it. To make an application you need to submit the relevant forms and pay the relevant fee.

Making an application

Pre-design/pre-lodgement meetings

A pre-design/pre-lodgement meeting helps identify whether an application should be submitted and any issues relevant to a specific project. You are encouraged to participate in a pre-design/pre-lodgement meeting as it assists in reducing assessment times. To request a pre-design/pre-lodgement meeting, please complete and return the form Application for a pre-design/pre-lodgement meeting—ESR/2015/1664 (formerly EM1125) (Word, 107K)*.

Application forms

An application must include Part A and relevant Part B form below:

Application fees

An application must be accompanied by the prescribed fee in schedule 7 of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011. Fees have been categorised based on the proposed use of the resource. A summary of the relevant fees can be found in the guideline Approval of a resource for beneficial use—ESR/2015/1626 (formerly EM1719) (PDF, 67K).


Permit and Licence Management

Ph: 1300 130 372 (Option 4)
Fax: (07) 3330 5875


Review of decision

If you have been affected by a decision in relation to a BUA, you may have review rights. An internal review must be requested prior to pursuing a review from other external parties. Sections 174-179 of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 detail the internal review process.


If you are eligible to request an internal review and you would like to have the decision reviewed, please complete and return the form Application for an internal review—ESR/2015/1633 (formerly EM1339) (Word, 110K)*.

* Requires Microsoft Office files viewer

Last updated
16 August 2016