VENM Assessment Guide: Waste Management & Classification

Chemical contaminants pose a significant threat to commercial and industrial sites, as well as civil construction projects. At ESP Environmental, we specialize in providing clients with the foresight and expertise necessary to ensure environmental compliance on their sites or projects. Our team is dedicated to addressing the complexities of waste management and classification, particularly when it comes to Virgin Excavated Natural Material (VENM) assessment.

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) defines VENM as natural materials, such as clay, gravel, sand, soil, or rock fines, that have been excavated or quarried from uncontaminated areas. However, meeting the criteria for VENM classification requires careful evaluation of past and present activities on the site, the absence of manufactured chemicals or process residues, and the absence of sulfidic ores or soils.

For waste material to be certified as VENM, a VENM certificate may be issued, providing confidence to waste generators, contractors, and receivers. While chemical testing is not mandatory, it may be necessary to determine contamination levels.

Key Takeaways:

  • Chemical contaminants pose a major challenge for commercial and industrial sites and civil construction projects.
  • ENV Environmental provides forward-thinking solutions and expertise in environmental compliance.
  • VENM assessment involves evaluating past and present activities, absence of manufactured chemicals or process residues, and absence of sulfidic ores or soils.
  • A VENM certificate certifies waste material as VENM, providing confidence to waste generators and receivers.
  • Chemical testing may be necessary to determine contamination levels.

Classifying Excavated Material as VENM

Excavated material can be classified as VENM if it meets the criteria defined by the POEO Act. This includes being excavated from areas not contaminated with manufactured chemicals or process residues and not containing sulfidic ores or soils. Generators of VENM must assess the past and present activities on the site and the surrounding land to determine if contamination is present. Land uses and activities that could result in contamination include agricultural/horticultural activities, landfill sites, mining and extractive industries, and more.

The presence of sulfidic ores or soils also disqualifies the material from being classified as VENM. Generators should review the applicable Acid Sulfate Soil Risk Maps to determine the probability of acid sulfate soils being present. If detectable concentrations of reduced inorganic sulfur are found, the material contains sulfidic ores and soils and cannot be classified as VENM. Additionally, VENM cannot contain any other waste or be made from processed soils.

Criteria for Classifying Excavated Material as VENM:

  • Excavated from areas not contaminated with manufactured chemicals or process residues
  • Does not contain sulfidic ores or soils
  • Absence of contamination from agricultural/horticultural activities, landfill sites, mining and extractive industries, etc.
  • Review Acid Sulfate Soil Risk Maps to determine the absence of acid sulfate soils
  • No presence of detectable concentrations of reduced inorganic sulfur
  • Not mixed with other waste or processed soils

“By following the classification criteria, waste generators can ensure the proper management and disposal of excavated material, supporting environmentally responsible practices.”

VENM Certificate and Waste Disposal

A VENM certificate is an optional but beneficial document that can be completed by waste generators or consultants to certify that waste material meets the criteria for VENM as defined by the POEO Act. Obtaining a VENM certificate provides confidence to waste generators, contractors, and receivers that the classification process has been followed correctly.

While extractive materials legally extracted from a quarry are generally not considered waste and do not require a VENM certificate, there are situations where they may be classified as waste. For example, if the materials are received by a scheduled waste facility liable to pay the waste levy or if they are unwanted by-products of a process. In such cases, a VENM certificate may be necessary to ensure compliance.

VENM, once classified and certified, can be disposed of as general solid waste or accepted at licensed construction and demolition waste recyclers without additional approvals, depending on the specific regulations of the region.

Benefits of a VENM Certificate

A VENM certificate offers several advantages for waste generators, contractors, and receivers:

  1. Compliance: Ensures compliance with the classification requirements set by the POEO Act.
  2. Confidence: Provides confidence that the waste material has been accurately assessed and meets the criteria for VENM.
  3. Regulatory Clarity: Helps waste generators navigate complex waste disposal regulations and clarifies their responsibilities.
  4. Reputation: Enhances the reputation of waste generators by demonstrating their commitment to proper waste management practices.

By obtaining a VENM certificate, waste generators can streamline the waste disposal process and contribute to more efficient and sustainable waste management practices.

VENM Certificate vs. Non-Certified Waste

VENM CertificateNon-Certified Waste
Confidence in waste classificationUncertainty in waste classification
Compliance with POEO ActPotential non-compliance
Smooth waste disposal processPossible hurdles in waste disposal
Assurance of proper waste managementRisk of inadequate waste management

 

Waste Classification Overview

Waste classification is an essential process in waste management to determine the nature of waste materials and ensure their proper disposal and management. Various types of waste are categorized based on their characteristics, including hazardous waste, liquid waste, restricted solid waste, general solid waste (putrescible), and general solid waste (non-putrescible).

Hazardous waste includes materials such as explosives, gases, flammable solids, and waste contaminated with hazardous substances. This classification is crucial due to the potential risks posed by these materials to human health and the environment.

Restricted solid waste refers to waste with a contamination level lower than hazardous waste but higher than general solid waste. It may still require specific handling and disposal methods to prevent any adverse impacts.

General solid waste encompasses both putrescible waste that decays and non-putrescible waste that does not. This classification helps determine appropriate disposal requirements, recycling possibilities, and potential reuse of materials.

To facilitate better waste management practices, it is necessary to accurately classify waste materials so that they can be handled and disposed of in accordance with relevant regulations. Waste classification provides guidance on the most appropriate disposal methods, ensuring the protection of the environment and public health.

Waste TypeDescription
Hazardous WasteExplosives, gases, flammable solids, waste contaminated with hazardous substances
Restricted Solid WasteWaste with a contamination level lower than hazardous waste but higher than general solid waste
General Solid Waste (Putrescible)Waste that decays, including organic materials
General Solid Waste (Non-Putrescible)Waste that does not decay, such as plastics, metals, and glass

Understanding waste classification is critical for waste generators, service providers, and regulators to ensure appropriate waste management practices. By accurately categorizing waste materials, we can minimize environmental impacts and promote a more sustainable approach to waste disposal and resource utilization.

What is Virgin Excavated Natural Material (VENM)?

Virgin Excavated Natural Material (VENM) is a specific type of general solid waste (non-putrescible). It consists of natural materials, such as clay, gravel, sand, soil, or rock, that have never been farmed, built on, or modified and are free from hazardous contamination. VENM is advantageous because it can be sold and re-used at other sites, often referred to as “clean fill.”

However, to sell VENM, appropriate assessments and testing must be conducted to ensure it meets the criteria and does not contain any hazardous materials. VENM has specific paperwork requirements to prove its classification and suitability for re-use.

To further understand the characteristics and significance of VENM, let’s take a closer look at its key features:

  1. Natural Material: VENM comprises naturally occurring materials like clay, gravel, sand, soil, or rock that have not undergone any human-made alterations.
  2. No Previous Use: The material must not have been farmed, built on, or modified in any way.
  3. Hazard-free: VENM should be free from hazardous contamination, ensuring its safety for reuse.

VENM certifications and assessments establish the suitability of the material for reuse and disposal, ensuring compliance with waste classification guidelines. By properly classifying and managing VENM, waste generators, contractors, and receivers contribute to effective waste management and environmental protection.

Waste Placement and Environmental Authorisation

The placement of Virgin Excavated Natural Material (VENM) on certain land uses requires an environmental authorisation under the Protection of the Environment Act 1997. Land uses that may require authorisation include broadacre, rural, hills, ridges and buffer areas, river corridors, mountains and bushlands, and plantation forestry. For these land uses, the placement of more than 100 cubic meters of soil triggers the requirement for authorisation.

However, it is important to note that the placement of VENM on land uses not listed above is not specifically regulated under the Act. Therefore, before placing soil on any land use, it is essential to obtain appropriate approvals from other ACT authorities, such as the ACT Planning and Land Authority.

Ensuring proper environmental authorisation for the placement of VENM is crucial to protect the surrounding ecosystem and comply with regulatory standards. By obtaining the necessary approvals, waste generators, contractors, and receivers can proceed with confidence, knowing they are adhering to environmental guidelines and promoting sustainable waste management practices.

Classification and Disposal of VENM

When it comes to managing Virgin Excavated Natural Material (VENM), understanding the classification and disposal process is essential. VENM material that meets the defined criteria is pre-classified as “inert waste.” This classification allows for easier and streamlined disposal options without the need for additional approval from the environmental authority.

One disposal option for VENM is landfill. Since it is classified as inert waste, VENM can be disposed of in landfill facilities without the need for additional approvals. This provides a convenient and efficient solution for waste disposal.

Additionally, licensed construction and demolition waste recyclers can also accept VENM without requiring approval from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). This further simplifies the disposal process and offers environmentally-friendly alternatives for VENM waste.

However, it is crucial to ensure that materials classified as VENM truly meet the defined criteria and are free from hazardous substances. Appropriate assessments and testing should be conducted to guarantee compliance with waste classification regulations, ensuring the safe and responsible disposal of VENM materials.

VENM Clearance Requests and Further Assessment

If you are planning to excavate and remove Virgin Excavated Natural Material (VENM), it is important to obtain a VENM clearance from the Office of the EPA. To request clearance, you will need to provide the necessary details about the site and the estimated volume of material to be excavated and removed.

Obtaining a VENM clearance before undertaking any excavation ensures compliance with the VENM definition and environmental regulations. It is a crucial step in managing waste materials and ensuring that VENM is properly classified and handled.

However, it’s important to note that not all material may meet the definition of VENM. Any material that does not meet the criteria for VENM classification will be subject to further assessment under the EPA’s requirements for the reuse and disposal of contaminated soil in the ACT.

If your material does not meet the VENM definition, it is essential to follow the EPA’s guidelines and undergo the necessary assessments to determine its suitability for reuse or disposal. Different regulations may also apply if the material is proposed for reuse or placement in New South Wales.

Requirements for VENM Clearance Requests

RequirementDescription
Site DetailsProvide accurate information about the site where the excavation will take place, including location, size, and any relevant site history.
Volume EstimateEstimate the volume of VENM that will be excavated and removed from the site. This helps determine the scale of the clearance required.
Environmental Impact AssessmentAssess the potential environmental impact of the excavation and removal process. This may include identifying any sensitive areas or ecosystems that could be affected.
Contamination Testing (if applicable)If there is any suspicion of contamination, conduct appropriate testing to assess the presence and level of contaminants in the material.

By following the necessary procedures and obtaining a VENM clearance, you can ensure the proper management and disposal of waste material, contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly approach. For further assistance or information on VENM assessment, clearance requests, or further assessments, consider contacting ESP Environmental Services at 1300 377 522.

 

Conclusion

Proper VENM assessment, waste management, and waste classification are crucial for ensuring environmental practices and compliance with regulations in Australia. By understanding the definition of VENM, conducting appropriate assessments, and obtaining necessary certifications or clearances, you can effectively manage waste materials and contribute to better environmental practices and sustainability.

Following the guidelines and regulations for VENM assessment allows waste generators, contractors, and receivers to ensure the proper disposal, reuse, and placement of VENM. This not only promotes responsible waste management but also helps mitigate any potential harm to the environment. By prioritizing waste classification and adhering to the necessary procedures, you can actively contribute to minimizing environmental impact.

If you require further assistance or information on VENM classification, waste management, or environmental assessments, consider reaching out to ESP Environmental Services. Their team of experts can provide guidance and support for your specific needs. Take a step towards responsible waste management and environmental stewardship. Contact ESP Environmental Services at 1300 377 522.

 

FAQ

What is Virgin Excavated Natural Material (VENM)?

VENM is natural material, such as clay, gravel, sand, soil, or rock fines, that has been excavated or quarried from areas not contaminated with manufactured chemicals or process residues. It must meet specific criteria, including the absence of sulfidic ores or soils and other waste.

How can excavated material be classified as VENM?

Excavated material can be classified as VENM if it is not contaminated with manufactured chemicals or process residues, does not contain sulfidic ores or soils, and meets the criteria defined by the POEO Act. Generators need to assess past and present activities on the site and surrounding land to determine if contamination is present.

What is a VENM certificate and why is it important?

A VENM certificate certifies that waste material is VENM according to the POEO Act. While it is not mandatory, the certificate provides confidence to waste generators, contractors, and receivers that the classification process has been followed. It helps to ensure the proper disposal and reuse of VENM.

How is waste classified?

Waste is classified into different categories based on its characteristics, such as hazardous waste, liquid waste, restricted solid waste, general solid waste (putrescible), and general solid waste (non-putrescible). The classification helps determine disposal requirements, recycling possibilities, and potential reuse of materials.

How is VENM different from other waste materials?

VENM is a specific type of general solid waste (non-putrescible). It consists of natural materials that have never been farmed, built on, or modified and are free from hazardous contamination. VENM can be sold and re-used at other sites as “clean fill” after appropriate assessments and testing to ensure its suitability.

What is the process for waste placement and environmental authorisation?

The placement of VENM on certain land uses requires an environmental authorisation under the Protection of the Environment Act 1997. Land uses like broadacre, rural areas, river corridors, and mountains may require authorisation if more than 100 cubic meters of soil placement is involved.

How is VENM disposed of or accepted for recycling?

VENM is pre-classified as “inert waste” and can be disposed of in landfill without additional approval. It can also be accepted at licensed construction and demolition waste recyclers without the EPA’s approval, making disposal options easier and more streamlined.

How can VENM clearance requests and further assessment be obtained?

VENM clearance requests can be made to the Office of the EPA by providing site details and estimated volume of material to be excavated. It is important to obtain a VENM clearance before excavation to ensure compliance with the VENM definition. Material not meeting the VENM definition is subject to further assessment under the EPA’s requirements for contaminated soil reuse and disposal.

What are the key steps in VENM assessment and waste management?

Proper VENM assessment, waste management, and waste classification are crucial for environmental practices and compliance with regulations. Understanding the definition of VENM, conducting appropriate assessments and testing, obtaining necessary certifications or clearances, and following guidelines and regulations ensure proper waste disposal, reuse, and placement.

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