The Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) has proposed a package of work to tackle high-risk stockpiling activities which has been endorsed by the minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leeanne Enoch.
The package aims to reduce impacts to communities, develop an industry code of practice and ultimately improve resource recovery outcomes for Queensland. Enoch spoke at WRIQ’s August Business Lunch this week addressing industry perceptions of the state’s environmental regulator and highlighting the challenges the industry is currently tackling regarding fire risk.
The recent fire at the Victorian Campbellfield premises of MRI e-cycle solutions and others across Australian waste and resource recovery sites has operators concerned about the management of post-consumer recyclables. The facility at MRI e-cycle solutions, one of the state’s largest e-waste operators, caught fire in the early morning hours on Sunday August 9 and burned for more than a day.
Enoch clarified the Government’s message that community, and environment come first and compliance and enforcement efforts against dangerous stockpiling will continue to be a major priority and good operators should be recognised.
Support for WRIQ
In parallel, WRIQ will be supported to increase compliance understanding through a package of work to build the capability, capacity, and awareness of all stakeholders to identify, reduce or eliminate fire risk.
The Minister also outlined the Department of Environment and Science (DES) Annual Compliance Plan and her intention to support the establishment of an Industry Code of Practice with an initial focus on transfer stations.
According to WRIQ CEO Mark Smith, “Stockpiling is a necessary activity that’s required when we collect the waste and recycling that the community and businesses across Queensland are generating. The activity is part of our waste management system.
“Most operators invest time, people and other resources to reduce and eliminate fire risk, but fires happen. Most of these are managed by the operator and we do not hear about them. But our sector is not judged or regulated by what is going well or when we have succeeded. We are judged and regulated by what has gone wrong. So we need to step up and tackle these issues collectively.”
“This initiative is not about superseding waste and recycling businesses current practices but demonstrating our industry’s commitment to address the concerns of the government and the community. This package of work will engage with local councils, landlords and waste generators.”
“This is good news for the sector in Queensland and it’s great to see the leadership Minister Enoch is demonstrating by responding to business feedback and the commitment of supporting industry led approaches to compliment traditional regulation to reduce illegal activity and high-risk stockpiling activity.”
“This isn’t about catching out good operators but identifying those business that pose the biggest risks to our sector and those that are engaging in high-risk stockpiling activities”
“Waste generators don’t take enough responsibility for the waste they generate. With the incoming COAG waste export ban we will need to drive greater responsibility in supply chains. We need to see more support for the good operators making the right investments to manage fire risk and managing waste safely and not fund cheaper operators who may be engaged in high-risk activity,” Smith said.
Work on stockpiling training will commence immediately and groundwork on the code of practice will be started by WRIQ concurrently.