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Vic EPA urged to better support industry in preparing for transition to digital PIW certificates

The Victorian EPA’s decision to strengthen the management of prescribed industrial waste (PIW) with a compulsory fully electronic tracking system has been welcomed, but not without concern over the potential lack of preparedness by industry.

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has questioned the readiness of some in industry to take on the new system, which comes into effect on July 1.

In just a few days’ time, the EPA Victoria will no longer accept paper waste transport certificates, with all certificates to be recorded electronically.

VWMA executive officer, Mark Smith, said while the move is necessary after a recent discovery of illegally stored chemical stockpiles in Melbourne shone a light on the management of PIW, the Victorian government needs to ensure the implementation of this change doesn’t cause operators to seek other portals for managing high-risk waste.

Smith explained the illegal stockpiles in Bradbury were a reminder to EPA to help enforce the prevention of 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. This was the second major chemical fire in less than 12 months.

“The VWMA supports this action however government needs to ensure implementation of this change doesn’t result in unintended consequences from rogue operators that will actively look for ways around the system.”

Smith said that as with any change it was important that businesses were provided with the opportunity to engage in discussion on how these changes will be felt, which is why VWMA has engaged the EPA’s support in holding information sessions for the industry.

“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,” Smith said.

“It is great to see EPA taking steps to support businesses with the transition and I encourage any business that are being challenged by this change to reach out to the VWMA or the EPA directly before July 1.”

The change on July 1 to an electronic certificate system marks the first phase of the implementation of EPA’s new waste tracking tool.

The immediate impact for businesses will be the transitioning for some businesses to submit previous paper based forms via an electronic system.

VWMA indicated that the short turnaround time, of about 10 weeks, had been experienced differently for business along the supply chain, so the face-to-face sessions are aimed at providing businesses an opportunity to walk through the online system, hear about how it will come together, and receive further updates from the VWMA on what they are doing to support their members through this transition.

The sessions, supported by the EPA, are happening from June 27-28 in Melbourne, with VWMA also offering remote access for people unable to attend in person.