QLD State of the Environment report highlights interstate waste

The Queensland Government has released its 2018 State of the Environment report, highlighting interstate waste as a pressure on the state’s landfills.

Relatively low costs of landfill disposal in Queensland are said to be the motivator for cross-border flow of waste in the report.

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More than 1.26 million tonnes of domestic waste, 2.146 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste (C&D), and 1.443 million tonnes of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste was sent to landfill in 2016-17.

Of this, 53,000 tonnes of domestic waste, 640,000 tonnes of C&D waste and 23,000 tonnes of C&I waste was generated interstate and transported to Queensland landfills.

The amount of trackable waste received from interstate also increased from around 13,000 tonnes in 2011-12 to 52,200 tonnes in 2015-16.

Littering and illegal dumping is also highlighted as a serious environmental pressure, with reports suggesting the problem as widespread throughout Queensland.

The average number of litter items was found to be higher in Queensland than other Australian stats, particularly at beaches, retail strips and recreational areas.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the increase in the amount of interstate waste was proof that that Queensland needed a waste levy.

“The state government’s waste management strategy will stop interstate waste and increase investment in the industry to encourage more recycling and create jobs,” Ms Enoch said.

NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy draft released

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The strategy outlines new measures to close loopholes for transporters and increasing transparency of waste generators.

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This includes tracking waste vehicles that transport asbestos with GPS tracking devices and increasing the risks and consequences of being caught illegally dumping asbestos.

Penalties for not complying with directions from the NSW EPA could be increased within a six-month timeline, with additional regulatory actions implemented to deter unlawful behaviour. Sentencing provisions would also be strengthened under the changes in the draft, with courts able to determine the monetary benefits gained through illegal business models and included within their sentencing decision.

To make legal disposal of asbestos easier, the draft outlines investigating the removal of the waste levy from separated bonded asbestos waste and implementing additional ways to properly dispose of wrapped asbestos.

The NSW EPA would also work with local councils and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Activities to provide education and raise awareness to help change behaviours of householders and licensed asbestos removalists.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the government wants to make it easier and cheaper to do the right thing, strengthen regulation and penalties, close loopholes and disrupt illegal business models.

“The NSW Government is committed to reducing illegal dumping by 30 per cent by 2020 and this strategy is just one of the actions to fulfil that commitment,” Ms Upton said.

“In particular, we want to make the legal disposal of bonded asbestos cheaper and easier in NSW so the community and environment are safeguarded.

“Research commissioned by the EPA revealed the cost and inconvenience of legal disposal as major why asbestos is being illegally dumped,” she said.

Ms Upton said it is important that the community, local government and industry have a say on how asbestos waste is dealt with.

The draft of the NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy is available here, with consultations closing on 20 November 2018.

Funding announced for $700,000 Litter Innovation Fund applicants

Successful applicants for Round 2 of Sustainability Victoria’s $700,000 Litter Innovation Fund have been announced, including councils, businesses and not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises.

Grants were offered in two rounds and provided up to $20,000 for innovative solutions to litter and illegal dumping that are delivered through a partnership.

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The package comprises of two funding streams, projects in the Yarra River and Port Philip Bay catchment and projects outside of these areas.

Successful applicants include Southern Cross Recycling Group, in partnership with the City of Whittlesea and Maribyrnong, for the Mobile Community Resource Recovery Hub, a purpose-built trailer that provides a collection point for small household items and clothing.

Monash City Council in partnership with Monash University have also been grated funding to assist the culturally and linguistically diverse student education project to reduce illegally dumped waste.

Boroondara, Nillumbik and Yarra City Councils have partnered with Connectsus to fund the Binasys project, which will install ultrasonic level sensor technology to provide a live demand profile of each public litter bin.

In an effort to tackle construction litter, Wydnham City Council, Wolfdene Property Development Group, Point Cook Open Spaces and Beach Patrol will use the funding to liaison with developers, builders and tradies using a pledge system.

EPA Victoria and VicRoads will assist the Macedon Ranges Shire Council to install infrastructure at identified hotspots to increase enforcement and behaviour change and reduce illegal dumping through education campaigns.

A roadside litter campaign will also be launched addressing litter from vehicles along major transport routes due to the funding provided to the Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, VicRoads and local government authorities.

EPA Victoria welcomes illegal dumping budget funds

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria has welcomed the Victorian Government’s budget announcement of $9.1 million over four years to continue the work of its Illegal Dumping Strikeforce.

The budget also included $19.9 million in what the Victorian Government said in its budget papers will strengthen the EPA and ensure it’s working to help protect the state’s environment.

In other environmental areas, the budget contained $1.2 million for an air quality strategy, and other funds for Parks Victoria and climate change. The budget papers state that $14.5 million will be provided for funding to councils and the recycling industry to ensure the continuing kerbside collection of household recyclable waste, which appears to be a continuation of the funds announced in February.

EPA Chief Executive Officer Nial Finegan said the $9.1 million investment would enable EPA to continue tackling illegal waste disposal through targeted investigations, compliance activities, intelligence gathering and public information campaigns.

“Illegal dumping has significant impacts on human health and the environment, and costs Victorians around $30 million a year in clean up costs and lost landfill levy revenue,” Mr Finegan said.

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“The continued program will allow us to build on the knowledge and expertise gathered so far, increase our focus on prevention, and disrupt the business of illegitimate dumping through behaviour change and public information.”

The strikeforce program has been targeting the illegal dumping of construction and demolition waste, skip bin loads and waste tyres.

“Illegal dumping creates an eyesore and can contaminate the soil and nearby waterways, and the cost of the clean up is too often left to the community or landholders,” Mr Finegan said.

“Two thirds of EPA’s prosecutions every year are for illegal waste dumping, and over the last two financial years, EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce has inspected hundreds of sites for illegal dumping and issued more than 170 clean up notices.”

EPA’s clean up notices are legally enforceable orders to remove dumped waste for proper disposal, and EPA fines start in the thousands of dollars and can go as high as hundreds of thousands if the case goes to court.

 

 

NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy updated

The NSW Government has committed $65 million and updated the NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy to clamp down on illegal littering.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton announced the changes, saying they would help make NSW a cleaner state by 2021.

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“The NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy tackles a serious environmental and health issue,” Ms Upton said.

“It is backed by ambitious targets and a significant financial commitment to cut the rate of illegal dumping across the State by nearly a third.”

The NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy outline key actions to stop illegal dumping. It discusses the value of education, collaborative partnerships, enforcement and infrastructure.

NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will deliver the updated strategy by partnering with public land managers, local government, charities and community groups.

Funding has gone towards certain initiatives, with $9 million for regional illegal dumping squads to help prevent and clean up dumped rubbish, $3 million for the Clean-up and prevention program that helps land managers and community groups, and $1 million to the Aboriginal Land Clean-up and Prevention Program.

RIDonline, the NSW EPA’s illegal dumping database, has been expended to let the community report incidents.

“This Government is committed to a cleaner NSW and this Strategy will help us continue to work to reduce dumping in our community areas and environment,” Ms Upton said.

The strategy can be found here.

EPA Victoria conducts surprise skip bin blitz

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA Victoria) has conducted surprise inspections at twelve skip bin hire companies across Melbourne.

EPA’s Illegal Waste Dumping Strikeforce spokesperson Chris Webb said the inspections were looking for evidence of activities that are giving the skip bin industry a bad name.

“EPA has targeted skip bin hire firms because the industry has attracted a number of operators who dump the waste illegally, often in our forests or on private land, which allows them to outcompete genuine skip bin businesses by avoiding paying the fees for proper disposal and recycling of the loads,” Mr Webb said.

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“The inspections have gone well, with EPA staff working in teams with Victoria Police and staff from Hume City Council.”

Mr Webb said the EPA has shared intelligence with the other agencies and are in communication with environment protection organisations in other states, as unscrupulous skip bin hire firms are a problem nationwide.

“There is a lot of waste being dumped in creeks and parks, in rented buildings and on private land, some of it including hazardous materials such as asbestos from construction and demolition sites around Melbourne,” Mr Webb said.

During the past two years, EPA has undertaken nearly 350 illegal dumping related inspections, issued more than 170 legal notices requiring a clean up, conducted prosecutions through the courts and issued Infringement Notices that represent a fine of nearly $8000 each.

The growth areas of Melbourne, such as the Cities of Hume, Brimbank and Whittlesea are the hotspots in the metropolitan area, and EPA is working with local councils there and wherever illegal dumping occurs.

Illegal dumping is a problem across the state particularly regional areas such as Bendigo, Mildura, Ararat and Geelong where dumping commonly occurs on farmland or on public land such as in state or national parks.

EPA says members of the public can help to clean up the skip bin industry by being savvy customers.

“Anyone hiring a skip bin should ask questions. If the price seems suspiciously cheap in comparison to other quotes, it may mean the real cost is being dumped on the community and attracting possible prosecution,” Mr Webb said.

EPA also encourages the community to watch out for suspicious activities – such as unusual truck movements at night, commercial properties or warehouses collecting piles of waste, or very cheap offers of waste removal – and to report it to EPA.

The agency has advice for skip bin operators on its website about the handling, transport and identification of industrial waste, contaminated soil, clean fill, organic matter, asbestos, acid soils, household rubbish and other likely contents of skip bins.

 

Spring is the season for illegal dumping: EPA Victoria

NSW EPA consults on reforms to recycling C&D waste

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has urged Victorians to choose a reputable bin hire company, as the spring season emerges as the peak period for illegal dumping.

As Victorians get busy redecorating and building, the EPA said this is the time where far too many skip bin loads of renovation waste going missing.

The growth areas of Melbourne, such as the Cities of Hume, Brimbank, Wyndham and Manningham are the hotspots in the metropolitan area, and EPA is working with local councils there and wherever illegal dumping occurs.

Illegal dumping is also a problem in regional areas such as Bendigo, Mildura, Ararat and Geelong where dumping commonly occurs on farmland or on public land such as state or national parks.

Chris Webb of the EPA’s Illegal Waste Disposal Strikeforce says anyone hiring a skip bin should be careful to choose a respectable company.

“Illegal dumping contaminates the environment, it disadvantages the honest businesses who pay the fees for proper disposal, and it often leaves the community or landholders paying for the clean up,” Mr Webb said.

“There are fly-by-night skip bin operators who will give you a very cheap price, then abandon your renovation waste in the bush, on private land or in a rented warehouse,” he said.

“The landholder, your local council, or even you, might be the one left with the clean-up cost, and unlike the skip bin, it won’t be cheap.”

Typical materials dumped illegally include construction and demolition waste, hazardous materials such as asbestos, and household waste.

“The fine for illegal dumping can be thousands of dollars, and then comes the cost of the clean-up and proper disposal,” Mr Webb said.

The EPA notes that anyone hiring a skip bin should ask questions. If the price seems suspiciously cheap in comparison to other quotes, it may mean the real cost is being dumped on the community and attracting possible prosecution.

The EPA also encouraged the community to watch out for suspicious activities – such as unusual truck movements at night, commercial properties or warehouses collecting piles of waste, or very cheap offers of waste removal – and to report it to the regulator.

During the past two years, EPA has undertaken nearly 350 illegal dumping related inspections, issued more than 170 legal notices requiring a clean up, conducted prosecutions through the courts and issued Infringement Notices that represent a fine of nearly $8000 each.

Anyone with information about illegal dumping is encouraged to report it to EPA by calling 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842) or via the website www.epa.vic.gov.au