What to expect of emission standards

An update on standards for NRSIEE

Non-road spark ignition engines and equipment (NRSIEE) can contribute significantly to air pollution in Australia, particularly in urban areas. The Australian Government is working towards introducing emission standards to reduce air pollution from NRSIEE which include mowers, chainsaws, generators and outboards.

An update was recently provided by the Boating Industry Association of Victoria, which hosted an event on small engine emissions changes – in particular, the evaporative laws. Power Equipment Australasia attended this event, which proved to be invaluable in educating on potential upcoming changes, and what these changes might mean for the industry.

Preparing for emission standards
NRSIEE refers to a wide range of petrol and gas-powered equipment such as marine engines and garden equipment. The NRSIEE emission standards are being introduced for a number of reasons, including the fact that NRSIEE contribute to air pollution, which in turn has adverse health and environmental effects. Not only is there a worldwide movement to cleaner NRSIEE, but high-emitting NRSIEE are particularly prevalent in Australia, making it even more important to act soon.
Presenters at the event included president of AMEC, David Heyes; chair of Blue Sky Alliance, Gary Fooks and Director of Air Quality Section, Department of the Environment, Declan O’Connor-Cox. The presenters assured that nothing the public currently owns will be banned with the introduction of new emission standards, but advised that stockpiling will be discouraged, probably with an end date for retailing. It was also conveyed that an understanding of the proposed standards, as well as existing standards in the US, would assist the industry in its preparations.
The proposed requirements will vary depending on the type of NRSIEE. In general the legislation will allow for:
• Prohibiting the import, manufacture and supply of new NRSIEE that do not meet the standards
• Certifying new domestic and imported NRSIEE products, noting that many NRSIEE products already certified by the US EPA and other jurisdictions with equivalent standards would be recognised in Australia
• Cost recovery options to support government administration of the standards
• Flexibility to allow for a timely and orderly transition to the new standards. Options being examined include exemptions (limited and specified), phase-in timeframes and averaging and banking (to allow for engine families that, on average, meet the standards).
The new standards and legislation will be introduced by The Australian Government as soon as possible, but is subject to the Parliament’s schedule. It is anticipated that exhaust emission standards will take effect in 2017, with evaporative emission standards being considered for introduction in 2019.
The standards are performance rather than technology-based, but according to Director Declan O’Connor-Cox, four-stroke and direct-injection two-stroke engines will generally meet the standards, as will a range of low-emitting two-stroke handheld equipment such as chainsaws and brush cutters. This means that conventional two-stroke outboards and non-handheld equipment such as mowers would not meet the new standards.
For those importing equipment, it is suggested that copies of EPA (or equivalent) certificates be requested before committing. Furthermore, he suggested that they have exporters send a picture of the EPA emission label before purchasing and inspect products pre-shipping wherever possible. It should also be noted that any modifications to engines will require relicensing or certification.
Industry professionals are encouraged to source compliant components and change supplier if need be. They could also run out stocks of non-compliant hose; build sample and test models and run field testing, as well as capitalise on green buyers including councils, defence and eco-tourism resorts. It should also be noted that labelling must occur when the engine label isn’t visible without the use of tools.
One of the key messages from Mr O’Connor-Cox was that the introduction of such standards will take time, and that the industry should also be given due time to prepare for compliance.
Mr O’Connor-Cox said, “The industry will need a substantial amount of time to adapt. We think a time period of about two years is reasonable.”
To help the industry to adapt, Mr O’Connor-Cox spoke about phase-in periods which would allow for import orders and shifting of current stock. He also said that limited and specified exemptions could potentially be made.
Mr O’Connor-Cox said that legislation will be introduced to the government in the Spring Sitting, but he does not expect it to be passed in one sitting – rather, it is expected to be passed in the next sitting in early 2017. According to Mr O’Connor-Cox, it is not a contentious issue, and there should be no problem in having standards formally introduced.

Enforcement of standards
Mr O’Connor-Cox said that the enforcement and compliance of standards is the responsibility of importers, manufacturers and owners. For manufacturers this includes OEM (pumps, generators and mowers), boat builders and retailers.
Compliance will be intelligence-led and risk-based while remaining consistent with whole-of-government approaches and ANAO. Any decisions to prosecute will ultimately be made by Director of Public Prosecutions and be informed by risk, as well as the integrity of the system. Mr O’Connor-Cox stipulated that the government does not want industry professionals or others to be prosecuted, and wants to work towards proper education to ensure that non-compliance is kept to a minimum.
“We won’t get good compliance if we don’t let people know it’s coming,” Mr O’Connor-Cox said.
Because NRSIEE is largely imported, there will be a great deal of focus on the borders. In order for this to happen, the government will work alongside customs to ensure that standards are met. Although this will not work for fuel systems, the government expects that it will work for engines.
The industry will also have an important role in ensuring compliance, according to Mr O’Connor-Cox. Targeted visits and audits may be informed by both the industry and customs, and will not be limited to tip-offs, although anonymous tip-offs will also be important.

For more information visit: https://www.environment.gov.au/
Enquiries may be directed to: airquality@nullenvironment.gov.au