Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) says spring and early summer is the illegal dumping season and the Victorian bush is often the target for skip bin loads of rubbish.
Chris Webb from EPA’s Illegal Waste Disposal Strikeforce says that’s where hikers, campers and anyone going bush for fishing or a barbecue can help, by reporting what they find.
“The faster EPA hears about an illegally dumped load of waste, the faster we can do something about tracking down the culprit, prosecuting them and having the mess cleaned up,” Mr Webb said.
“The problem is serious, there are fly-by-night skip bin hire firms that specialise in dodging the cost of proper recycling and disposal by abandoning tonnes of waste wherever and whenever they can,” he said.
“That illegal dumping contaminates the environment and is unfair competition for the honest local businesses who pay the fees for proper disposal and recycling.”
The dump sites often include construction and demolition waste, hazardous materials such as asbestos and household rubbish. A large percentage of those materials should have been recycled, instead of winding up in a local creek or park.
Local Councils across the state spend around $30 million every year cleaning up abandoned waste, and two thirds of EPA’s prosecutions every year are for illegal waste dumping.
“When you see waste dumped in the bush or abandoned on private land, report it to EPA by calling 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842) or visiting the website www.epa.vic.gov.au,” Mr Webb said.
EPA can issue legally enforceable clean up notices and fines that start in the thousands of dollars and can be in the hundreds of thousands if the case goes to court.
“Illegal dumping creates an eyesore and can contaminate the soil and nearby waterways, and the cost of the clean up is too often left to the community or landholders,” Mr Webb said.
“EPA has an Illegal Waste Disposal Strikeforce dedicated to reducing the dumping of large scale industrial waste. During the last two years we have inspected hundreds of sites for illegal dumping and issued more than 170 clean up notices,” he said.
“A report from a camper, a hiker or other member of the public identifying an illegal dumping site can help us keep up the pressure.”
The growth areas of Melbourne, such as the Cities of Hume, Brimbank, Wyndham and Manningham are the hotspots in the metropolitan area, and EPA is working with local Councils there and wherever illegal dumping occurs.
Illegal dumping is also a problem in regional areas such as Bendigo, Mildura, Ararat and Geelong, where dumping commonly occurs on farmland or on public land such as state or national parks.
For more information, visit www.epa.vic.gov.au