Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has this week begun its compliance program for e-waste collectors and reprocessors.
From July 1, e-waste should not be put in your household bin, but taken to a council or business collection point. E-waste can then be processed to recover valuable metals and materials which can be harmful to the environment if left in landfill.
E-waste is anything with a plug, battery or power cord that is no longer working or wanted.
E-waste ranges from small personal items like mobile phones and children’s toys to large household items such as washing machines, fluorescent light tubes and solar panels.
EPA Regulatory Programs Director Rachel Gualano said officers would be inspecting sites with a focus on preventing harm to the environment and human health, including land and groundwater contamination, stockpiling and mitigating fires.
Businesses which have the capacity to reprocess more than 500 tonnes of specified e-waste per year must operate under an EPA licence. The maximum penalty for operating without a licence is $386,000.
“Any person who generates, collects, stores, handles, transports or reprocesses e-waste must take all reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce the risk to human health and the environment – regardless of whether they are big enough to require a licence or not,” Ms Gualano said.
“The methods taken to ensure compliance with the policy may be different for different businesses, depending on their needs and situation but all site owners and operators must take responsibility for understanding their obligations.”
Ms Gualano said EPA had been working with other government departments and industry bodies over the past few months to prepare people for the change.
“EPA has released guidance to assist businesses to comply with the new policy and will continue to update and review as required,” she said.
“While EPA officers will be out and about, community assistance is also vital to our ability to prevent harm from pollution and waste. Anyone who is concerned a collection point or processor may not be complying should report it to EPA’s 24-hour pollution hotline 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).
“Where necessary, EPA will not hesitate to take action in line with its Compliance and Enforcement Policy.”
For more information visit epa.vic.gov.au/Ewaste