Following a series of major fires, a national fire standard and an audit of combustible waste stockpiles is needed, said the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC).

With fires a critical risk to public safety, the NWRIC is calling for the development of national fire management standards for waste and recycling facilities. The Council believes this standard is needed to protect public safety and restore trust. These fire control standards should apply to all waste and recycling facilities.

“Following a series of major fires, we’re calling on regulators in every State and Territory to conduct audits of stockpiles of combustible material to ensure future fires do not harm public safety and further tarnish the reputation of our industry,” said Mr Phil Richards, Chair of the NWRIC.

“We note the recent regulatory action by the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority, and urge other States and Territories to follow their example.”

To enhance the program, at the October 12 NWRIC meeting industry leaders also called for a national register of waste transporters, along with a new program by regulators to licence all waste processing facilities and landfills, regardless of size.

Related to the stockpiling of combustible material is new concerns with access to overseas markets – especially to China – for plastics. Additional government support to enhance markets for paper and plastics is urgently needed to reduce the commercial pressure for operators to stockpile.

Programs which will stimulate recycling markets are available in the NWRIC ‘Policy Roadmap for a Circular Economy.

Used tyres stockpiles also represent a critical fire hazard. The Council believes that a mandatory product stewardship scheme, under the Commonwealth Product Stewardship Act 2011, should be introduced without further delay. Tyre stockpiles exist in all Australian jurisdictions.