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Waste recycling sector insurance premiums set to soar after major fire events

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Major fire incidents at waste recycling facilities in NSW and VIC in the past week have highlighted the need for stringent risk mitigation procedures to be adopted by all businesses in the sector.

Last week’s blaze at the SUEZ Chullora Resource Recovery Park in south-west Sydney saw more than 100 firefighters attempt to contain the fire, with nearby factories and homes evacuated for safety. The smoke plume was visible up to 25km away.

Meanwhile, the factory fire at the SKM recycling plant in Coolaroo, VIC, on 28 February took more than 5 hours to bring under control. Smoke from the blaze blanketed Melbourne’s northern suburbs and caused at least one person to seek paramedic assistance for breathing.

Although the cause of both fires has yet to be determined, Russell Boucher of Gallagher Insurance Brokers - the endorsed broker of both the Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association and the Waste Management Association of Australia - says other waste and recycling centres should use the incidents as an impetus to ensure they’re following best practice in risk management.

fire cover“Waste recycling centres often have a high level of highly flammable materials at them. Sometimes it just needs a spark to set off a major fire,” said Boucher.

“It’s vital that all waste and recycling facilities ensure their machinery is regularly maintained by qualified technicians. That will help minimise a range of risks, ensuring your business and staff are as protected as possible.”

Boucher warned that the fire incidents are likely to lead to insurance premium increases for businesses operating in the sector.

“Business owners should be prepared to pay significantly more for their property insurance, or take up a higher excess, on the back of these incidents,” he added.

“That’s a further reason to ensure waste recycling facilities have the very best plans in place to reduce their risks. Businesses that can demonstrate they have robust risk mitigation processes in place will see this reflected in their premiums.”

WCRA members needing risk management and insurance advice can contact Russell Boucher at Gallagher on 02 4979 3350 or email

WMAA members should contact Chris Lynam on 07 3002 2217 or email