The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria recently published a public notice in major newspapers announcing that the previous owner of Ecocycle, CMA Recycling Pty Ltd (In Liquidation), had been found guilty of storing prescribed industrial waste, including mercury, at a site in Reo Crescent in Campbellfield without a licence. CMA Recycling Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) was fined $60,000 and ordered to pay EPA Victoria’s costs of $52,193.41.
Given that the guilty party went into liquidation in 2013, it’s worth questioning whether the fine or the costs will ever be paid.
Cooperation and compliance
As reported at the time, highly experienced recycler and former owner of the Ecocycle business, Doug Rowe purchased the assets and the Ecocycle name from the receivers of CMA Recycling Pty Ltd after it went into liquidation.
Since then, the important task of mercury recycling has continued under the name of Ecocycle Pty Ltd.
Appalled at the amount of waste stockpiled on unlicensed premises, Ecocycle worked closely with EPA Victoria and equivalent bodies in other states to clean up the mess left behind by CMA Recycling. This included substantial contributions to the cost of that clean up.
Since taking over the business in 2014, Ecocycle Pty Ltd has remained in compliance with all of its licenses, and continues to cooperate with state EPAs to address the scourge of mercury pollution.
Money poorly spent?
While the prosecution and conviction of CMA Recycling Pty Ltd (In Liquidation) may offer a sense of justice, the low likelihood that the fine and costs will every be paid renders it something of a hollow victory.
Meanwhile, numerous operators continue to ignore hazardous waste regulations around Australia.
“A lot of waste is shipped interstate, and our understanding is that the most common fate for mercury-bearing waste is storage, often in unlicensed facilities,” said Ecocycle’s Business Development Manager Daryl Moyle.
“Most waste is simply not being recycled, despite the capacity to do so safely. Wouldn’t the EPA Victoria’s money be better spent on policing current breaches of prescribed waste laws?” Mr Moyle asks.
In 2017, following an independent inquiry into EPA Victoria, the Victorian Government committed $45.4 million to the implementation of the inquiry’s recommendations. Of this, $6.5 million was earmarked for boosting the EPA Victoria’s prosecution strategy and funding more investigators, environment protection officers and legal staff.
It is to be hoped that EPA Victoria leverages this investment by tapping into industry intelligence and expertise.