Get answers to the most commonly asked questions about transfers in the NPI.
How are emissions to the environment (land) different from transfers?
For NPI reporting purposes, emissions to land are defined as the release of an NPI substance - whether in pure form or contained in other matter and/or in solid, liquid or gaseous form. Emissions to land include substance emissions onto a facility's site, such as solid wastes, slurries and sediments, as well as accidental spills and leaks.
Transfers are the transport or movement, on-site or off-site, of NPI substances in waste to a mandatory reporting transfer destination - such as tailings dams or landfill - or a voluntary reporting transfer destination (e.g. for reuse, recycling or reprocessing).
Why report transfers?
Substances within waste that are transferred can pose an environmental risk. For example, substances transferred to landfill or tailings, although initially contained, have the potential to enter the environment through leaching or other means.
What constitutes a transfer (mandatory reporting)?
The reporting of NPI substances in transfers to the following long-term purpose-built waste storage structures is mandatory:
- Tailings storage facility
- Underground injection facility
Transfers to the following destinations must also be reported:
- Destruction facility/area
- Off-site sewerage system
- Off-site treatment facility for which the ultimate destination is either of the above
Examples of mandatory transfers include the following:
- Wastewater pumped to an external facility for treatment
- Waste that is unsuitable for composting or reuse due to high contamination levels being sent for disposal to a landfill or municipal waste facility
- Cyanide wastes deposited in a tailing dam
What constitutes reuse or recycling (voluntary reporting)?
The reporting of NPI substances in transfers arising from the following processes is voluntary:
- Part purification
- Energy recovery
Examples of voluntary transfers include the following:
- Effluent or other material from intensive livestock practices used as fertiliser
- Composting of organic waste (on-site)
- Reuse of a residue back into the process as a fuel source
- Substances in waste oils sent to a recycler
How is transfer information presented on the NPI website?
The information on transfers is presented separately to emissions data in order to minimise any misinterpretation between transfers and emissions data.
How are transfers different to other waste tracking and reporting systems?
Data on transfers form part of international pollutant release and transfer registers (PRTRs), which bring together data on transfers and releases (emissions) of pollutants to the environment. The information is made publicly available.
Other waste tracking and reporting systems, run separately by state and territories, only apply to certain types of waste. Under these systems, data in each state and territory is tracked and reported by the relevant each state/territory environment agency.
Estimation methodologies for waste transfers
The same estimation methodologies can be used for transfers that are used for emissions. These include the following:
- Sampling data or direct measurement
- Mass balance
- Fuel analysis or engineering calculations
- Transfer factors
- Approved alternatives
The NPI Guide sets out detailed information on thresholds and identifying emission sources. Some emission estimation technique manuals have been updated, with others to be updated as an ongoing process.
What are the reporting thresholds for transfers?
Transfers are required to be reported if a Category 1, Category 1b or Category 3 reporting threshold is exceeded. For example, if the threshold has been exceeded for the Category 1 substance sulfuric acid as a result of use of this substance on site, transfers to final destination, as well as the amount emitted, is reportable.
There is no requirement to report transfers of substances that are exclusively Category 2a and/or 2b in the event that the fuel and energy use threshold has been exceeded (i.e. there is no requirement to report transfers of oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter ≤10µm, particulate matter ≤2.5µm, Polychlorinated Dioxins and Furans, or Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons). There is also no requirement to report transfers of substances which are both Category 1 and Category 2 (e.g. Cadmium & compounds) if only the Category 2 threshold has been tripped. Reporting of transfers of the substance is required if the Category 1 threshold has been tripped.
If a company disposes some of its waste in a landfill site that belongs to the company but is in a different location, how is this regarded?
This would be considered an off-site disposal, because the landfill is not adjacent to or contiguous with the facility.
If a facility uses town sewage in the process cycle of the facility, will this increase reported transfers. How can double counting be avoided?
The facility would only need to report the transfer of the substances if the residue is going to a mandatory transfer destination (i.e. landfill). Reporters, if they wish, can provide contextual information to clarify that their reported mass for mandatory transfer is higher for this reason and this information will be made publicly available. It is expected that this will mainly be attributed to transfers of Category 3 substances (Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus).
Do transfers from office, kitchen and toilet waste need to be reported?
Transfers of general waste from the office, kitchen and workstation, and domestic based sewage generated from the building’s toilets do not need to be reported to the NPI, as the amount of NPI substances in these wastes is unlikely to exceed NPI reporting thresholds. If the thresholds for NPI substances contained in the waste are already exceeded elsewhere on site, the amounts are likely to be insignificant compared to other on-site sources.
Sewage discharge from on-site amenities such as toilets are not reportable, but process discharges to sewer (where a threshold is exceeded) should be reported as transfers.