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.