Major changes to the Victorian environmental legislation took effect from 1 July 2021, with the new focus of the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) and its inspectorate to be on preventing harm before it happens.
The VACC is urging its members and the wider industry, in particular auto recyclers and wreckers, to review their current processes in order to minimise harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste.
“This needed to happen. It’s also a major step in the right direction towards an end-of-life vehicle scheme. But for now, it’s about properly supporting business owners and making sure they know what their new obligations are – as well as what they face in terms of non-compliance repercussions,” said Geoff Gwilym VACC CEO.
VACC has long been an advocate of the proactive preventative approach now enshrined in the legislation, having previously worked directly with the EPA to create the Auto Recyclers Guideline. The document outlines practical measures that can be taken to prevent or minimise the risk of harm to human health and the environment as a result of auto recycling operations.
More generally, as most automotive sites produce some form of what EPA defines as Reportable Priority Waste, the VACC is conducting a series of webinars supported by the EPA, communicating the importance of correct waste classification, working with licensed collectors and using a new and compulsory Waste Tracker program.
The tightening of EPA regulations is set to have a ripple effect across the automotive industry, resulting in greater business transparency and accountability. “The new EPA permission system requiring auto recyclers to be registered, combined with the requirement for vehicle dismantling and recycling activities to be undertaken at a ‘lawful place’ is set to vastly increase the transparency of auto recycling operations throughout Victoria,” said Dale Imlach, Chairman Auto Parts Recyclers Association of Australia.
“We are encouraged that, with time and investment, a level playing field and environmental improvement can be achieved. The issue of unlicensed businesses undermining licensed businesses in our industry – and the waste industry generally – has constrained business development over the last 20 years.”
VACC maintains that the new legislation is a positive step, and that the automotive industry is behind EPA efforts. It will be a process, but businesses can comply with the law by identifying, controlling, and managing their risks to the environment – reaching out to industry bodies and readily available EPA material for guidance.
“The automotive industry continues to be proactive and work collaboratively with bodies such as the EPA. We all have the same goal when it comes to the environment and wanting to keep people safe. However, providing practical solutions and resources to well-meaning business owners is paramount. Operational processes need to be clear and easy to implement if there is going to be real change,” concluded Gwilym.