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Governments must regulate on waste management, LIV

Governments must regulate on waste management, LIV

By Karin Derkley

Environment Environmental Protection 


The LIV has recommended the state government introduce a "polluter pays" principle to strengthen the accountability of product manufacturers, encourage recycling, and reduce waste.

The LIV Environmental Issues Committee also supports a transition from the current "linear" approach in which products are used and disposed, to a "circular economy" in which materials are viewed as valuable resources that continue to have different forms of value over their lifespan.

In its submission to a Victorian government inquiry into recycling and waste management, the LIV said governments play a crucial role in the responsible management of waste through legislation, regulation, and the steering of a clear policy agenda.

The final report of the inquiry by the Legislative Council Environment and Planning Committee cited the LIV’s recommendation for a polluter pays principle as well as for the transition to a circular economy.

The polluter pays principle should be embedded into any future national approach to recycling and waste management, the LIV said in its submission.

"This principle, which is a generally accepted practice of environmental management, provides that any costs resulting from pollution should be borne by the person who caused the pollution.

“It aims to ensure that the real cost of environmental harm is recognised and met by the party causing the contamination, while avoiding injustice to innocent parties resulting from the actions of others."

A recent independent review of the Environment Protection Act 1970 recommended the need to include "recognition of the polluter pays principle" among the EPA's decision-making principles.

The LIV also said that a national approach to the regulation of waste and recycling industries was needed to promote uniformity for waste and recycling operators whose activities are undertaken across multiple states and territories. "A national approach would also improve environmental outcomes and increased clarity and efficiency for regulators," it said.

Agreements between regional waste groups and recyclers must be appropriately drafted to ensure they are reasonable and practical, the LIV said. "This is necessary to avoid environmental issues arising from cost-cutting, including inappropriate and dangerous waste stockpiling practices."

Environmental controls must be considered at the design phase, which is the point at which they are most efficient in eliminating the source of pollutant first and foremost, the submission said.

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