An Altona business has been caught burning plastic after being ordered to remove 100 tonnes of illegally-stored recyclable waste from a warehouse.

The tenant of the Aylesbury Drive warehouse, MJM Fabrication Pty Ltd, had been given until Tuesday of last week to remove co-mingled waste that included bottles, cans, plastic and paper.

The operation occurred without permits from Hobsons Bay council or the Environment Protection Authority, which has been called on by the council to enforce the removal.

The unlawful storage of waste and burning of plastics comes amid a parliamentary inquiry into the crisis facing recycling and waste management in Victoria. Hobsons Bay and many other metropolitan councils had been forced to send recyclables to landfill after the EPA banned SKM Recycling from accepting waste at its Coolaroo and Laverton North plants in February due to the fire risk of stockpiles.

Hobsons Bay mayor Jonathon Marsden said officers inspected the Altona premises last week to see if the waste had been removed but instead found the operator had been burning recyclable plastics.

“The tenants of the warehouse on Aylesbury Drive have not removed the 6000 cubic metres of co-mingled kerbside plastics,” he said. “At the request of council, the occupier immediately ceased incineration of plastic waste and dismantled the incinerator as they did not have the required planning permit from council.

“As the tenant has now removed the furnace, it is no longer a planning matter for council.

“The occupier also committed to removing the waste, however this has not yet occurred.

“Unfortunately, it is beyond council’s power to enforce the removal of the waste.”

Cr Marsden said the council was – for the second time – calling on the EPA to act.

“On 13 March, 2019, council initially requested that the EPA enforce the removal of this waste material,” he said. “We have once more sought EPA assistance and asked that the EPA ensures the removal of the waste from the site and apply the necessary sanctions in accordance with their compliance and enforcement policy.”

The EPA said the authority “continues to work with council on a resolution”.

The council first became aware of the issue in mid-February and conducted an initial inspection before involving the EPA.

Fumigation had to be carried out to kill swarms of flies after the warehouse’s illegal stockpile was detected.

The council then conducted a joint inspection with the EPA and the site operator. As a result of that inspection, the council gave the operator until April 1 to remove the waste.

The operator successfully requested an extension to April 30 for “extenuating reasons”.
It is understood the tenant leased the property last December.

MJM Fabrication Pty Ltd was contacted for comment.