The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is holding an industry forum to grow the waste sector’s understanding of new environmental protection legislation.
VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said new environmental regulations, starting 1 July 2020, will greatly impact industry sectors throughout Victoria.
“July 2020 will see the biggest overhaul of Victoria’s environmental laws and regulations, which will have substantive impacts to the waste and recycling sector including logistics, reprocessors and the organics and composting industry,” Mr Smith said.
“The new regime adopts a preventive and duties-based approach to environmental protection, and imposes new frameworks and principles that will change the way waste management companies are regulated.”
The EPA’s new Environment Protection Amendment Act is focused on preventing waste and pollution risk, rather than managing harm after it has occurred and is modelled on occupational health and safety legislation.
Some of the most significant changes include a general environmental duty, which requires all Victorians undertaking an activity with risks of harm to the environment and human health to identify and implement reasonably practical means to eliminate or minimise these risks.
This covers risks from waste management activities from generation through to disposal.
Under the new legislation, licences will also be subject to regular reviews and a risk-based environmental audit regime introduced.
According to Mr Smith, it’s important businesses make themselves aware of these changes, and aligning with an association is a great way to stay on top of what is going on.
“The VWMA participates in a number of references groups related to the new act and has been communicating for the last 12 months to our members about some of the incoming changes,” Mr Smith said.
“Now it’s the people on the ground, the people that deliver waste and recycling services daily to make sure they understand what’s coming and prepare accordingly or voice their concerns now. ”
Mr Smith said the VWMA, in partnership with Russell Kennedy Lawyers and Equilibrium Consulting, is inviting anyone working in the waste and recycling industry to take part in the forum, which will also include opportunities to engage with experts across the sectors.
“Substantial changes are ahead for Victoria and we have crafted a program that will unpack the essential elements of the new Environment Protection Act and the areas of regulation,” Mr Smith said.
“We encourage everyone to come along to these sessions with laptops and other relevant devices, as sessions will include opportunities to summarise and submit feedback via government’s engage platform website.”
Mr Smith said attendees will receive all relevant information in one place and also also hear from legal firms and consultants, who will present multiple perspectives on how the new changes will impact businesses.
Russell Kennedy Lawyers Principal Stefan Fiedler said the state government’s legislative reform mandate originates from protecting human health from pollution and waste.
“The reform must facilitate, support and protect investment, by industry, state government and local government by creating certainty to achieve this objective,” Mr Fiedler said.
“A balanced and proportionate regulatory response is required recognising the contribution by legitimate operators forming the foundation of Victoria’s waste and resource recovery sector.”
According to Mr Smith, the VWMA will capture and consolidate industry concerns and feedback, which it will incorporate into an industry submission on the upcoming changes.
The forum will run 23 October at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, as part of Waste Expo Australia.
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