Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch has endorsed a package of work led by Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland (WRIQ) to tackle high-risk stockpiling activities.
The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is partnering with Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) to develop a training package that seeks to equip operators with information and tools to better manage fire risks.
The training course will be delivered by VWMA as part of its industry training program to be modelled on the Management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials – guideline.
The training will equip operators with information and tools to understand the fire hazards associated with their activities and take steps to reduce risk. It will include the management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials in a manner that protects the environment and human health from the risk of fire.
EPA sees the partnership with VWMA as an important way of ensuring ongoing implementation of the management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials – guideline and will be seeking to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach.
VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith highlighted that last year’s VWMA State Conference saw a commitment from the association to work with insurance sector and legal firms, consultants and government to tackle rising insurance costs and the risk of fire at sites.
“This announcement today lays the foundation for us to move forward. Members can expect further information about additional services we will be rolling out at our state conference on 30/31 July,” Mr Smith said.
“Figures from DELWP reveal more than 100 recycling facility fires have happened in the last 10 years, with the largest costing Victorian Government over $110 million. We want to reduce instances of fires and work with insurance companies to show that the sector is making inroads to lift standards.
“Participating in this training will demonstrate a waste and resource recovery operator’s willingness and commitment to identify and manage risk. It will also support business lower their risk profiles, which will increasingly be expected if the sector wants to remain insurable.”
EPA CEO Cathy Wilkinson said that through extensive engagement with industry and local government, EPA has developed practical guidelines on how to comply with the Victorian Government’s Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials).
The VWMA and EPA recognise the need to promote better practice through a shared commitment to drive industry leadership in the preventative management of combustible recyclable and waste materials. The VWMA aims to support its members and the waste and resource recovery sector to reduce the frequency, scale and severity of fires at waste and resource recovery facilities.
In a statement, the VWMA noted that the Victorian waste and resource recovery sector provides over 23,000 direct and indirect jobs across over 1200 businesses and is an essential community service supporting all the waste management needs of every Victorian business and household.
Currently, the sector is responding to changes in the regulatory environment around fire risk and management following new government policy introduced after several major fires.
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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.
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“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.
- 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.