VACC Industry Policy Advisor discusses new ‘Guidelines’ for the auto recycling industry in Australia.
Michael McKenna, Industry Policy Advisor from the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) in Australia brings us up to date on the recently produced ‘Guidelines’ for the auto recycling industry in Australia and how they have collaborated with the local Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and VACC’s Automotive Dismantlers and Recyclers Division (ADRD) to make this possible.
In a significant step towards the introduction of an End of Life Vehicle program for Australia, a set of environmental guidelines known as the Auto Recyclers Guideline (EPA publication 1810) has been produced for the auto recycling industry in Victoria, a first for Australia.
The guidelines were developed jointly between the Victorian EPA and VACC’s ADRD. They were developed because of a perfect storm of environmental disasters that had been eventuating across the state at non-automotive recycling facilities
New environment protection laws were to come into effect in Victoria on 1 July 2020. VACC and EPA hoped that the information contained in the dismantler guidelines would assist business owners and operators within the auto recycling industry in Victoria to meet their new obligations. As a result of COVID-19, the Victorian Government has redirected EPA resources to other areas, and this will mean those new laws will come into effect in July 2021 instead.
The willingness of EPA Victoria to work with industry must be publicly lauded. One of the key roles of VACC is to bring industry and government together in the interests of cutting red tape and preventing, recommending, or endorsing sound legislation and regulation that will impact the industry. Quite often this is a frustrating process. But EPA Victoria came to the table with a ‘can do’ approach, used VACC data and interviewed ADRD members to develop a true picture of what goes on at the coalface.
ADRD has always maintained a view that the guidelines, once developed, could be applied nationally and act as a government-endorsed industry standard for the roll-out of a national ELV program. The requirement for such a program is now urgent.
VACC research completed in 2017 shows that over 63,000 tonnes of plastics derived from ELVs are sent to landfill in Victoria every year. Nationally it is estimated that 243,000 tonnes are sent to landfill (ELVs include passenger vehicles, vans, 4WD vehicles, utilities, and motorcycles). Despite these facts, ELVs continue to be missed as an industry sector by EPA Victoria, and other government agencies. The findings of the VACC research have been provided to government ad nauseam.
The guidelines focus on what practical measures should be implemented to prevent or minimise the risk of harm to human health and the environment resulting from auto recycling and dismantling guidelines. It contains a series of industry-endorsed steps that a business in this sector can implement to help prevent harm. But the real power behind the guidelines is government endorsement. While the guidelines are not law, they provide a source of truth for enforcement agencies reference and use when mounting a criminal or civil action. Ignorance is no longer a defence for dismantlers or wreckers.
The good news for the Australian dismantler is that the Guidelines have been delivered to the Australian Federal Government who are keen to see the guidelines rolled out in every state and that these guidelines are free from insurance company or other commercial entity influence. Australia has never been so close to getting that ELV program. Well done to the ADRD Executive Committee, finally ‘the apple’ is within reach.
A link to the guidelines is provided here.