Business, industry and planning guidance

Combustible recyclable and waste materials

The threat of fire at waste and resource recovery facilities is very serious, and the Victorian Government is committed to reducing this risk. In August 2017, an interim Waste Management Policy (Resource Recovery Facilities) (WMP) (Victorian Government Gazette) was implemented placing requirements on sites that receive and store combustible recyclable and waste materials (CRWM).

To support compliance with the interim policy, Management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials - guideline (publication 1667) was developed by EPA, Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and Country Fire Authority (CFA) in consultation with a wide range of government and waste industry representatives.

The Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials)   came into effect on 28 August 2018, replacing the interim policy. DELWP and EPA worked together to consult with industry and the community on development of this policy and review of the current guideline Management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials - guideline (publication 1667). An updated guideline will be released later this year.

This policy defines CRWM as recyclable and waste materials that could create a fire hazard, including but not limited to paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, rubber, tyres, tyre-derived waste, textile, organic material, refuse-derived fuel, specified electronic waste, metal and other materials with combustible contaminants, and combustible by-products of metal processing activities, and may include industrial or municipal waste.

The policy, and regulatory responses to reduce the risks of stockpiling, will contribute to ensuring that Victoria’s waste and resource recovery system remains robust and effective.

Consultation now closed

Consultation on the draft policy, the supporting impact assessment, and the existing guidelines closed on 1 August 2018. DELWP and EPA conducted various engagement and communication activities to ensure all stakeholder understood the proposed policy and had an opportunity to provide comment.

Managing combustible recyclable and waste materials in Victoria: Response to comments, and written submissions can be accessed on Engage Victoria. The response to comments summarises the issues, concerns and comments raised during the consultation. It provides the government's response to these comments, including how feedback has been considered in the final design of the waste management policy.

An updated guideline will be released later this year. Until then, the current Management and storage  of combustible recyclable and waste materials - guideline (publication 1667) is to be used for practical guidance on how to comply with the policy.

Once the updated guideline has been released our aim is to work with the industry to test its application in supporting compliance with the policy, and to identify the need for additional support materials. 

Q and A on WMP Resource Recovery Facilities + Expand all Collapse all

  • Why has a Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials) been declared?

    A number of fires at  resource recovery facilities have highlighted poor industry practices for storing and managing combustible recyclable and waste material (CRWM).

    The interim Waste Management Policy (Resource Recovery Facilities) was declared following the significant Coolaroo recycling facility fire in July 2017. Fires such as those at recycling facilities pose significant risks to the community and environment. The interim WMP was needed to ensure that stockpiles of CRWM are appropriately managed to reduce risks of future stockpile fires, and the associated risks to human and environmental health. These include generation of hazardous air pollutants (including smoke), oil, run-off and leachate that affect the air, soil and waterways.

    The interim WMP was replaced by the Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials) on 28 August 2018. A revised compliance guideline will be released later this year.

  • What does the policy do?

    The policy requires facilities that receive CRWM to manage their operations to minimise risks of harm to human health and the environment from fire.

    The policy gives EPA additional powers to support local government controls and Victoria’s fire services, and issue remedial notices to facilities not properly managing potential fire risks.
  • What do operators of waste and resource recovery facilities need to do to comply with the policy?

    The policy requires operators to take reasonable steps to prevent risks associated with fire at their premises. To meet this requirement, operators must conduct a risk assessment and implement necessary controls.

    Whether additional actions are required will depend on existing fire risk management at each site, but could include improved work procedures, maintenance and training to minimise ignition, changing the volumes and the way waste material is stored, and improving firefighting capabilities.

    EPA, MFB and CFA have published the Management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials guideline (publication 1667) – to support industry in meeting their obligations. This guideline provides advice on how CRWM can be managed and stored to minimise fire risks.

    Sites must maintain any stockpiles according to the dimensions stipulated in the guidelines or alternative dimensions that reduce risk to an equivalent or better level. Alternatively engage a suitably qualified fire expert to complete a separate risk assessment and fire management plan.

  • How will councils be impacted under the reforms?

    Councils will work with the Victorian Government Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce to ensure local planning and building regulations are being met by operators of waste and resource recovery facilities.

    Kerbside recycling through councils will continue as normal. In some municipalities, the destination of the recyclable material may change as the waste and resource recovery network evolves.
  • How will householders be impacted under the policy?

    There will be no impact to householders who recycle through kerbside recycling.

    The Victorian Government recently announced the Recycling Industry Strategic Plan to assist and drive a more sustainable market.

  • How is the policy being enforced?

    The goal is to have all resource recovery facilities effectively managing fire risks. The Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce will continue to determine which sites represent the highest risk to human health and community from will work with these sites to ensure compliance.

    EPA, CFA, MFB and local government are inspecting CRWM sites and will take remedial action through their respective regulatory tools where required. Non-compliance with the policy is an offence under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and EPA may apply sanctions (enforcement) in accordance with the Compliance and Enforcement Policy (publication 1388).

    Fire services, local government, and WorkSafe can also take action under their respective legislation.

  • Which sites does the policy apply to?

    The policy applies to operators of any site receiving combustible recyclable waste material. However, the Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce is adopting a risk based approach to inspections and compliance and enforcement, targeting its efforts at the sites that pose the highest risks.

    All sites are still expected to conduct a risk assessment and assess their practices and controls. The guidance assists in this process and is currently being updated to reflect feedback from stakeholders and intelligence gathered by the Taskforce to ensure it is relevant, targeted and proportionate.

  • How were the guidelines developed?

    EPA consulted with key industry stakeholders including industry peak bodies and a variety of operators of waste and resource recovery facilities.

    Government stakeholders involved included: Country Fire Authority, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Municipal Association of Victoria, WorkSafe, DELWP, and waste and resource recovery groups.

Page last updated on 29 Aug 2018