A large blaze that started in a pile of shredded rubbish at a Melbourne recycling centre is being investigated after a damning audit found the state's dumps are ill-equipped to prevent fires.

The rubbish went up in flames at the Norstar Recycling Plant at Laverton North on Wednesday night, sending smoke clouds over nearby suburbs.

Dozens of firefighters attacked the blaze from above while the site’s operators used heavy machinery to break up the burning rubbish.

The fire was deemed under control just before 10pm after burning for several hours.

The fire follows an audit of the state’s recycling plants, released earlier in December, which found some are ill-equipped and poorly prepared to prevent fires.

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria on Thursday issued a statement claiming there were no compliance issues at the site.

But they later corrected the record, noting that a November inspection of the Laverton North facility found a number of issues.

A spokesman said none was serious enough to require immediate attention.

The state-wide audit was ordered following a devastating blaze in July that engulfed the SKM recycling plant at Coolaroo in Melbourne’s north.

It burned for more than a fortnight, caused the evacuation of hundreds of nearby residents and sent a number of people to hospital.

The taskforce has so far inspected 73 of the state’s 500 recycling plants and issued 37 statutory notices for a range of issues, the EPA said when releasing its interim report on December 1.

A wide range of issues were identified at most sites, ranging from minor housekeeping matters to major failings resulting in significant ongoing risk.

The EPA and fire services will meet representatives from Norstar to discuss ongoing management of the site.


By Christopher Talbot