Engagement and enforcement the keys to preventing illegal dumping

The prevention of illegal dumping requires an approach that encompasses engagement, enforcement and partnerships, the Local Government Waste Management Forum heard last week.

An expert panel discussed successful interventions from a regulatory perspective and the experience of council litter prevention officers.

Cat O’Bryan from the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) said illegal dumping was the third highest issue that Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) Pilot had to deal with, after noise and water pollution.

She said working in partnership with local government to have a balance of education as well as using compliance and enforcement was an effective approach.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Senior Litter Prevention Officer, Travis Finlayson agreed, adding that partnerships are about acknowledging that illegal dumping was everyone's problem regardless of which authority owned the land on which the dumping occurred.

Travis encouraged councils to take up their own authority to enforce environment protection regulations even if they were not part of the OPLE Pilot.

“To be effective, councils need to have a zero-tolerance approach - identify the person responsible and use the tools under the regulations to fine them,” he said.

Melton City Council Litter Prevention Team Leader, Dylan Weeks said collecting data had enabled him to make the case for more resources for CCTV cameras in illegal dumping hotspots. He said the investment was paying off, with five prosecutions against offenders caught on camera in progress.

Both councils have found that making sure residents knew about enforcement activities was an important factor for prevention, mainly through social media.

MWRRG Program Coordinator, Jess Hand reinforced the value of visible evidence of enforcement activities as a deterrent.

Drawing on the results of a survey on illegal dumping to councils, Jess told the Forum that a clean up response without communication or engagement was rated as ineffective by councils.

“The use of ‘under investigation’ tape, stickers on dumped items and engaging with residents were rated as very effective interventions to prevent and manage illegal dumping because it tells the community that this behaviour is unacceptable,” she said.

From the 1st July of 2020 the amended Environment Protection Act 2017 will come into effect and change the way EPA and litter enforcement officers regulate litter and waste crimes.

Council officers interested in developing their knowledge and capability in litter and illegal dumping enforcement are encouraged to join the Litter Enforcement Officer Network (LEON) – email leon@kvb.org.au for more information.

 

Last updated: 18/11/2019