Failed recycling program a fire hazard

Fire risk is being monitored at nine sites where more than 3000 tonnes of soft plastic was uncovered from the collapse a major Australian recycling scheme.

Materials which should have been recycled have instead been found in nine warehouses across Melbourne after the collapse of the REDcycle soft plastic recycling scheme.

Not all sites are compliant with Victorian Environment Protection Agency requirements, but the authority's boss says progress toward compliance is being monitored with regular inspections.

EPA officers were back at some of the warehouses on Thursday and reported that work is being completed to ensure sites meet fire risk reduction measures, among others.

Community and environmental protection remain the focus, chief executive Lee Miezis said.

Built-in fire suppression systems, storage size limits and minimum separation distances are among the measures sites are being assisted to met.

REDcycle was Australia's largest recycler of soft plastics.

Melbourne organisation RED Group announced in early November 2022 that its recycling program had been paused due to "unforeseen challenges" including the COVID-19 pandemic and a 250 per cent increase in plastic returns since 2019.

But the announcement only came after millions of plastic bags, intended to be recycled, were found being stored in warehouses.

In December the EPA charged REDcycle's operators, RG Programs and Services, with failing to comply with its information gathering process.

EPA investigators discovered soft plastic storage sites in West Footscray, Truganina, Williamstown North, Campbellfield, Tullamarine, Dandenong South, West Wodonga and two in Tottenham.

Investigators were not satisfied RG Programs and Services had a reasonable excuse for not fully disclosing details about known storage sites, prompting the three charges which each carry a $165,000 penalty.

The EPA is still monitoring storage and has called for tip-offs from warehouse companies storing soft plastic and from the community.