Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined a Preston company more than $8,000, for breaching its EPA licence, after tracing flexible plastic waste found in Darebin Creek Reserve back to the source.
EPA Northern Metropolitan Manager Jeremy Settle says the investigation began when EPA received a pollution report from a concerned member of the public on 29 September.
“EPA officers found more than 40 fragments of flexible plastic littering the watercourse of a stormwater outfall to Darebin Creek Reserve. The fragments had distinctive print registration markings, print proof markings and branding associated with well-known food brands,” Mr Settle said.
“They followed the drain back to the premises of Amcor Flexibles (Australia) Pty Ltd in Bell Street, and saw that same distinctive plastic waste being discharged from a waste compaction system and collecting in a stormwater drain on and near the premises. The company operates under an EPA licence, which includes a condition which specifically prohibits incidents like this,” he said.
EPA has issued Amcor Flexibles (Australia) Pty Ltd with an $8,261 fine and regulatory notices requiring the clean-up of plastic wastes in the drain and installation of controls at the premises to prevent further loss of plastic wastes from the waste compaction system.
“Litter leaving any premises can enter the stormwater system and flow into creeks and waterways that lead to the Yarra, Port Phillip Bay or the ocean, where it can kill animals, birds or fish when they become tangled or swallow the litter,” Mr Settle said.
“Plastic litter is worse than most and can break up in the environment into smaller and smaller pieces that can take years, decades or centuries to start to break down, giving it plenty of opportunities to affect wildlife,” he said.
“EPA expects business and industry to have preventative processes in place to contain litter on their premises and maintain the condition of their facilities so that litter does not escape into stormwater drains and waterways.”
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.
EPA is now preparing for new legislation to take effect in 2020, that will give it a stronger focus on prevention and substantially increase potential penalties.
The legislation introduces a criminally enforceable General Environmental Duty, a responsibility for anyone whose activities may involve pollution to take reasonable steps to eliminate risk to human health and the environment.
Members of the public can report pollution via EPA’s 24-hour hotline, 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).