EPA Victoria removes ban

EPA Victoria has withdrawn its official notice banning recycler SKM Services from accepting recyclables at its Laverton North facility.

The facility, which processes large amounts of household recyclables collected by local councils, can now resume accepting waste.

The notice requiring SKM to cease accepting new waste was issued on 10 July, after an EPA inspection found the site failed to meet the requirements of the Victorian Waste Management Policy.

Following an Inspection by EPA this week, the notice was revoked. Inspectors from WorkSafe and the Wyndham City Council were also present to follow up on remedial action.

According to an EPA media statement, SKM’s recycling facilities can expect regular monitoring to continue and EPA will not hesitate to take further remedial action.

EPA Victoria orders recycler to stop accepting material

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) is initiating a range of measures to support councils, following a EPA Victoria notice that SKM Services stop accepting recyclable material at its Laverton North site.

EPA issued the recycler with notices on 19 June that required it bring outdoor stockpiles at Maffra Street, Coolaroo and Laverton North into compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy by 3 July 2019.

An EPA media statement said regulatory action followed an inspection that revealed waste on site had increased following an extension of time for compliance.

Additionally, a fire broke out at the Laverton North site 9 July that EPA believes began on a conveyor belt.

“EPA is of the opinion that SKM understood its obligations under the notices, but had not demonstrated a move towards achieving compliance at the Laverton North site,” the statement reads.

“The company will still be able to process waste at its Laverton North site while the notice is in place, but will not be able to receive any new materials until EPA is satisfied that it has achieved compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy.”

MWRRG is seeking confirmation from SKM that it has alternative provisions in place to ensure it can continue to provide service to up to 10 affected local councils.

MWRRG CEO Rob Millard said MWRRG’s focus is on ensuring minimal disruption to residents by working with affected councils, other recycling facilities and landfill operators on immediate and long-term solutions.

“Following China’s decision to limit the importation of recyclables, MWRRG has been developing collaborative procurements for recycling services, working with 11 council clusters comprising more than 60 councils across the state,” Mr Millard said.

“By councils working together, larger contracts will be offered in the industry to encourage investment in recycling infrastructure and technology, and to attract new candidates to the Victorian recycling sector.”

Mr Millard said industry would be asked to provide expressions of interest on the collaborative procurements in August, with detailed submissions expected by the end of the year.

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Victorian parliamentary inquiry into ‘waste crisis’

The Environment and Planning Committee will inquire into the “crisis” affecting Victoria’s recycling and waste management system following a parliamentary inquiry push from the Greens.

The inquiry was endorsed by the Victorian Parliament’s upper house on Wednesday.

Victorian councils were forced to send recyclables to landfill after the Environment Protection Authority banned a major Melbourne recycler from accepting waste at its Coolaroo and Laverton North plants in February.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told parliament a third of the councils affected by the ban had found alternative processors and the government was working to help the others.

When operational, the Melbourne recycler receives approximately 50 per cent of Victoria’s kerbside recycling across three facilities.

Victorian Greens deputy leader Ellen Sandell said the inquiry would help develop short-term measures to support councils and limit the amount of recycling ending up in landfill.

The Victorian Greens party is of the view that Victoria has been in the midst of a waste crisis since at least February 2018 and has been calling for solutions to improve market development.

Ms Sandell said she hopes the inquiry will provide direction to develop a state-based recycling industry, highlighting Greens proposals to develop a container deposit scheme and ban on single-use plastics.

“Victorians are doing the right thing and recycling at home, but right now there are no assurances of where it ends up.

“Government support for a state based recycling industry is long overdue and it’s not good enough for Labor to continually push responsibility back onto councils,” she said.

The Environment and Planning Committee plans to report by 13 August.

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