Illegal burn offs of industrial waste including treated timber, plastics and tyres appears to be on the rise, according to Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA).
EPA Executive Director Operations Mark Rossiter says the number of reports for 2023 (88) is already above the two-year (2021 and 2022) average of 84.
“All our regions are reporting problems of improper disposal of industrial wastes to the appropriate facilities and effectively holding their own backyard burn offs,” Mr Rossiter said.
“In the north west around Mildura and Swan Hill we have already issued a public alert about a worrying number of cases particularly by agricultural businesses, causing air quality issues.
“In our south west Victoria region, we have received 23 reports so far this year; ten more than for all of 2022. In our other regions, the reports are almost at last year’s total numbers already.
“Much of the reporting is about tyres, construction and demolition waste being burnt, but household waste and garden waste also features.”
Mr Rossiter says the cost of disposing of industrial waste should be factored into pricing for any job being done. If you’re hiring a waste disposal contractor, you should be making sure they will meet their obligations for correct disposal.
“Everyone has a role in protecting the environment. It is no secret that burning industrial waste is illegal. Rest assured those who are caught doing so will be held to account.”
Nearly twice as many illegal burn off reports to September 2023 than for the whole of 2022. In August 2023 alone, the southwest regional officers were referred to five instances of burning of waste, including a backyard burn of old mattresses as well as farms burning silage wrap, emitting toxic smoke.
Earlier this year a South Geelong company was fined more than $5,000 for burning treated timber, plaster, PVC pipe, and glass on a worksite. For more information go to Smoky South Geelong fire costs a company $5500 | Environment Protection Authority Victoria (epa.vic.gov.au)
In the state’s north west, EPA issued an alert following an alarming number of cases of illegal burn offs at agricultural businesses. For more go to https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/news-media-and-updates/media-releases-and-news/illegal-burnoffs-cause-concern-in-northwest-victoria
A Benalla company was fined $5,548 for illegal deposit of industrial waste burnt on their premises.
A company in the Shepparton area was storing organic waste on their site without approval. The waste self-combusted, resulting in air pollution and human health risks to residents in the surrounding area; while a potentially illegal fire that led to injuries to several people including children, in Nagambie on Sunday 10 September 2023 is being investigated by Victoria Police.
A farmer was fined more than $1,000 for burning tyres at his Tyres property in July. For more go to https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/news-media-and-updates/media-releases-and-news/farmer-fined-for-burning-tyres-at-tyers
In the north metropolitan region, EPA recently fined a Mickleham man $5,000 for burning off plastics. For more go to https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/news-media-and-updates/media-releases-and-news/burning-waste-ends-with-a-$5000-court-case
A garden supply company in EPA’s south metropolitan region should have been disposing of waste to a licensed landfill but instead heaped the waste into piles before lighting a bonfire. EPA is considering enforcement action for burning industrial waste in accordance with our Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
In another case, a man was fined nearly $2,000 for illegally burning industrial waste in Narre Warren. For more information go to https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/news-media-and-updates/media-releases-and-news/fine-for-illegal-burn-off
Reviewed 14 September 2023