So long as a business’ activities involve the handling of waste material at any point during the process of creating waste to the disposal of it, such business is caught under all relevant regulations overlooking waste management.
The purpose of the waste management regulations is to enhance a cleaner greener environment for the benefit of “the health and safety of the population”.
Due to the nature of industrial operations, the production of hazardous waste is common practice and is regarded as a pollutant to the environment with a potential of resulting in “serious medical conditions in humans and animals”.
Naturally, the fear of a failure to dispose of hazardous waste appropriately has called for strict implementation of penalties for breach of responsibility.
When it comes to the legalities of waste disposal and treatment, the Environmental Protection Authority states that it “enforces strict laws relating to illegal dumping to ensure wrongdoers pay heavy penalties for potentially harming human health and the environment, and deter dumpers from treating the offence.”
This strict enforcement has been well noted in the industrial sphere with many companies suffering the penalties of failure to comply.
As recent as August 2017, Monark, a Melbourne based demolition company, was slapped with a fine of $5,000 and the duty to pay $23,000 in court fees for its illegal dumping of thousands of tonnes of building waste to a disposal site which was not licensed to accept the waste.
Not only was a financial penalty enforced but also the director of Monark who was responsible for overlooking the waste management process was subject to a 12-month good behaviour bond without conviction upon a guilty plea to the charges made against the company.
Unfortunately, instances such as these are not anomalies to the industrial setting with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) imposing a fine of more than $14,000 on a second company for dumping industrial wastes at the same unlicensed location.
The relevant legislation which gives the EPA the right to impose fines vary from State to State. For example, in New South Wales, the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 is the relevant legislation regulating illegal dumping of waste in NSW and for Victoria, it’s the Environment Protection Act 1970.
Despite the different legislations, there is a general definition of illegal waste dumping for all States which is the dealing of unlawful transporting, acceptance, or deposition of waste with further implications should the waste cause either land or water pollution or both. The fines and penalties attached to illegal dumping include on-the-spot fines, which vary according to the severity of breach and impact, strict liability offences, wilful or negligent offences, and a discretionary increase on penalties to the discretion of the EPA.
It is therefore critical for industrial businesses to ensure a strict compliance with the relevant waste management regulations in order to avoid any unnecessary drawbacks in legal impression, company reputation, and financial standing.
Article provided by Rose Lawyers and Conveyancing