VWMA announces package to tackle rising insurance

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is developing a package to support members in the face of rising legal and insurance costs across the country.

Launched at this week’s VWMA State Conference, the conference saw attendees which included Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio who addressed delegates about the government’s waste agenda, including the recently announced $37 million Recycling Industry Strategic Plan, the broader challenges for the sector and Environment Protection Authority reform.

In a statement, the VWMA said it was responding to member’s concerns on staggering increases to insurance premiums and navigating the increasingly complex and changing regulatory environment. It said it had begun work to develop a package of support to tackle rising insurance costs for their members.

Related stories:

“Experts across a range of disciplines including regulation, social research, insurance and communications and marketing endorse an approach led by associations and speak to the benefits in tackling these challenges as a collective, which is one of the ways industry associations can provide greatest benefit to its members,” the statement said.

“Currently, the sector is reacting to the changing regulatory environment around fire risk and management. However the VWMA proposes to build capacity and capability across the sector so that collectively these risks can be managed together. It will be an approach that is about translating the complicated regulatory environment to “what does this mean for my business or my site?”.

The package will include four core components:

Training, tools and resources:

  • Focused on building the capability and capacity of VWMA members to identify and manage risks at their sites. This will include fit for purposes approaches based on the size, material types or other considerations specific to a site.

Information, webinars and access to experts:

  • Provide information, workshops and webinars on topics and issues of relevance or emerging threats/challenges to the sector.

Legal packages:

  • Ongoing support around legal compliance to help navigate an increasingly complicated regulatory environment.

Communication and engagement package:

  • Engagement with stakeholders outside the sector about what we are doing to tackle issues around stockpiling and fire management, including engagement with insurance companies, landlords and industrial parks.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the state conference heard from insurance experts who advocated for industry approaches to the challenges facing the sector.

“Rising insurance costs are currently a universal problem plaguing operators across the country,” Mr Smith said.

“We do have a path forward on how we can tackle these problems. The role of the association over the coming months will be to socialise and build support for the package and we are keen to hear from anyone who wants to add value to this discussion.”

Mr Smith said the VWMA has been engaged with other state associations and the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council around this package and received support for the proposal.

“If successful, the package is something that could be rolled out nationally, benefiting waste and recycling operators in other states. Perceptions are that we don’t manage stockpiles effectively, which we don’t believe is true. These are complicated problems and many stakeholders outside our sector have a role to play, including landlords, councils and insurance companies. We need talk and work with others to change perceptions of our sector. This package is going to meaningfully start those conversations,” he said.

“We are optimistic the government sees value in industry-led approaches to tackling these challenges. It’s about a shared responsibility and we’ll take this formally through relevant government agencies.”

Pictured: VWMA President Chris Ryan, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith.

Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce interim report released

Resource recovery facilities across Victoria are being audited following the release of the Victorian Government-commissioned Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce interim report.

The taskforce was set up in the aftermath of the SKM Recycling plant fire in Coolaroo, targeting key recycling sites that require extra management measures to ensure community safety.

To date, the taskforce has conducted 88 inspections of 73 sites and issued 37 statutory notices. More than 500 sites have been assessed for risk and 170 sites were found to store combustible material and require further investigation, according to a summary of the report.

Related stories:

The report summary highlights that the audit program identified that the resource recovery sector is generally “poorly prepared” and “ill-equipped” to manage the risk of fire at their facilities.

The interim report found that while no site was as high a fire risk as Coolaroo, a wide range of issues were identified, ranging from minor housekeeping matters to major failings subject to regulatory action.

The Victorian Government will consider each recommendation made by the taskforce, with inspections to continue until June 2018.

To assist the taskforce, the state government has strengthened the state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) by establishing an interim Waste Management Policy to improve safety standards at waste and resource recovery facilities.

The taskforce has developed guidelines that provide detailed information for resource recovery facility operators on how best to prevent and reduce the impact of fires.

A summary of the taskforce’s interim report can be found here.