Victorians transition to digital PIW certificates

The Victorian Waste Management Association has raised concerns about the waste industry’s preparedness for compulsory electronic prescribed industrial waste transport certificates by 1 July, 2019.

EPA Victoria (EPA) currently uses a mix of electronic and paper waste transport certificates for prescribed industrial waste (PIW).

EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said that the EPA will not accept the traditional carbon copy certificates after 1 July 2019. She said that waste operators experiencing difficulty accessing the electronic system should contact EPA as soon as practicable.

The new system aims to enable the EPA to monitor the movement of waste more quickly and accurately, compared to the paper certificates, which can be time consuming and difficult to process.

Under the new system, all holders will be required to submit electronic waste transport certificates. Waste producers, transporters and receivers will need to register a Portal Account with EPA to use the system, via the EPA website.

The EPA currently uses a mix of electronic and paper waste transport certificates – with up to 100,000 paper certificates received each year.

The EPA will invest $5.5 million to switch to a fully GPS electronic tracking system to better record the production, movement and receipt of industrial waste.

The transition forms part of a suite of measures to crack down on the illegal storage of hazardous waste.

The centrepiece is a new integrated waste tracking tool, with improved data analytics and reporting. This will deliver insights on sector activity, trends and highlight potential illegal activity.

EPA’s tracking system will be finalised by March 2020, so that industry has three months to transition before the new Environment Protection Act legislation comes into effect on 1 July 2020.

The new legislation aims to introduce modern surveillance devices, tougher penalties and a greater focus on industry responsibility and proactively managing risks to human health and environment.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said that 10-week notice period to transition from paper to electronics hasn’t provided many opportunities for discussions with business on the impacts of this change. He noted that in particular, this would affect people who act as agents or third parties for a generator or receiver.

Mr Smith pointed out that the discovery of illegally stored chemical stockpiles in Melbourne earlier this year shone a light on the management of PIW across Victoria and the EPA’s role in preventing harm to the environment and public health.

“The Bradbury fire highlighted deficiencies in the current administration of the PIW system and the Victorian Government had to act,” Mr Smith said.

He said that the VWMA supports this action. However, he pointed out that government needs to ensure the implementation of this change doesn’t result in unintended consequences from rogue operators that will actively look for ways around the system while at the same time burden compliant businesses further.

“I don’t think anyone is doubting the government’s intent with these changes. The recent events are unacceptable and action needs to be taken,” Mr Smith said.

“It’s just really important, like with any change, business is provided an opportunity to engage in discussion on how these changes will be felt and tackle any loopholes together.

To support businesses with the transition, EPA is supporting the VWMA to hold a series of face-to-face sessions this week that will provide businesses an opportunity to walk through the online system.

The sessions will hear about how the changes will come together and receive further updates from the VWMA on what they are doing to support their members through this transition.

The sessions will also provide an opportunity for business to engage in discussion around potential or perceived impacts of the change.

Mr Smith said the information sessions would not be possible without the support of the EPA.

“It’s great to see EPA keen to assist businesses with one-on-one assistance if needed. I understand that EPA have put more staff on to help with the transition.

“I’d encourage anyone who may be impacted to attend in person or join remotely via the webinar service we will offer. People can also phone in to listen if they don’t have internet access.”

Dr Wilkinson said that the EPA had conducted an extensive engagement program with the waste industry to facilitate this transition.

“Businesses that are concerned that they cannot use the electronic tracking system have been asked to contact EPA to outline the circumstances preventing them from accessing the system,” Dr Wilkinson said.

“EPA will work with each duty holder to identify a solution to enable them to continue to comply with their obligations under the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009.”

She said that facilities that receive waste have all registered to use electronic certificates.

“Waste producers, accredited agents, transporters and receivers are required to ensure they are compliant with the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009.”

She said that waste receivers should notify EPA if a waste transporter presents waste that does not have an electronic waste transport certificate.

“Receivers should also inform the transporter of the requirement to use electronic certificates and direct them to contact EPA on 1300 EPA VIC if they are not yet registered to use electronic certificates so that EPA can facilitate their immediate transition to the electronic system.”

Dr Wilkinson said that some waste receivers are adopting the position of refusing to accept any waste that is tracked using the traditional carbon copy certificates after 1 July 2019.

“EPA supports businesses who communicate this position to companies that they are expecting to receive waste from. EPA will refund unused carbon copy certificates that are returned to EPA by 31 July 2019, having extended this date from 30 June 2019.

“Development of the EPA’s tracking system continues and EPA is satisfied with the progress in developing the new tracking system ready for March 2020.”

For information on the VWMA sessions and how you participate please contact the VWMA/VTA on 03 9646 8590 or visit. The sessions will be held at the VWMA office in Port Melbourne on the following dates:

  • Session 1: 8:30am (Thursday 27 June) maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Session 2: 12:30pm (Thursday 27 June) maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Special Session 3: 3:30pm (Thursday 27 June) – Intended for major projects, earth movers and contaminated soils. Maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Session 4: 8:30am (Friday 28 June) maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Session 5: 12:30pm (Friday 28 June) maximum capacity 40 people.

The VWMA is also offering remote access for people unable to attend in person. Attendees can join via a virtual meeting and view the session online.

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Funding will go towards upgrading more than 130 e-waste collection and storage sites and help local councils to safely store and collect increasing amounts of e-waste.

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The funding aims to assist councils prepare for the state’s ban on e-waste which will come into effect in July 2019.

The upgrades aim to ensure 98 per cent of Victorians in metropolitan areas are within a 20-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point and 98 per cent of regional Victorians are within a 30-minute drive from a disposal point.

Councils will receive discarded electronics which will then be stripped of components for reprocessing or sold on the second-hand goods market.

Applications will also open in November for a share of $790,000 to deliver local education campaigns, with councils able to apply for up to $10,000 in funding.

E-waste is defined as anything with a plug or a battery that has reached the end of its useful life, including phones, computers, white goods, televisions and air conditioners.

The amount of e-waste generated in Victoria is projected to increase from 109,000 tonnes in 2015 to 256,000 tonnes in 2035.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the funding will ensure the state has one of the best e-waste collection infrastructure networks in Australia.

“We’re delivering on our promise to maximise recycling and minimise the damage e-waste has on our environment,” she said.

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