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Lifting standards at recycling facilities

In July 2017, Victoria witnessed the impact of fire on the community and environment when the SKM Recycling plant in Coolaroo caught alight.

This fire highlighted the need for government authorities to work together with resource recovery facilities to reduce fire risk and resulted in the establishment of a Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce.

Chaired by EPA, and with cross-agency representation from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Country Fire Authority, Emergency Management Victoria, WorkSafe Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the taskforce’s priority has been to undertake a comprehensive audit of recycling facilities across Victoria to identify high-risk sites stockpiling combustible recyclable and waste materials (CRWM).

Approximately 800 sites storing or processing CRWM were identified – more than 700 of which were assessed against a range of criteria to prioritise those requiring urgent attention. More than 200 sites were identified using these criterion.

The audit found only a small number of sites to be operating at best practice and uncovered a range of industry-wide issues ranging from minor housekeeping matters to major failings, resulting in significant ongoing risk.

As at 30 June 2018, 291 inspections across 114 sites had been carried out, with 69 remedial notices issued. This work has significantly reduced fire risks at several major waste handling facilities across Victoria – preventing harm to our environment and human health.

To support industry, EPA also produced a guideline with assistance from fire agencies to help facilities managing CRWM reduce their fire risk and comply with the Interim Waste Management Policy (Resource Recovery Facilities). The Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials) came into effect on 28 August 2018, replacing the interim policy.

Page last updated on 1 Jul 2019