CEO Report - Published in Inside Waste April - May 18 Issue.

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) welcomes the Queensland Government’s announcement of a reintroduction of a landfill levy. Government has answered the call for action, in part, due to a small number of waste industry operators continuing to use irresponsible and dangerous practices including transportation of waste over many hundreds of kilometres to avoid paying levies and gain a commercial advantage.

In 2017 WMAA, Australia’s peak national body for the waste and resource recovery industry, called on members, operators and stakeholders in the sector to sign a Waste of Origin Pledge in order for the industry to voluntary cease this practice, while conversations about solutions  with Government were being held.

The ultimate goal of WMAA is to achieve sustainable and environmentally sensitive waste and resource recovery management across the entire industry, to ensure a level playing field for all organisations, and develop the jobs and investment we need in this essential industry. We  can only do this with the correct regulatory settings and when we have community confidence.

WMAA was the only Association that actively called on the Queensland government at the recent election to develop comprehensive waste and resource recovery strategies and policies that included a landfill levy. We need to incentivize diversion and create an environment that  industry could invest with certainty within Queensland. WMAA absolutely agrees that a landfill levy is only one part of a comprehensive approach required to waste management and resource recovery in Queensland.

WMAA wants to see waste seen as the commodity it is and managed in accordance with the waste management hierarchy. We need to see support for new resource recovery infrastructure being developed as close as possible to where it is produced. This is a real opportunity for Queensland- to create local jobs and investment.

However, this is not just the opportunity in Queensland however. All states (not just Queensland) should be focused on utilizing levy funds to develop planning and financial support for industry to develop resource recovery infrastructure where it is required through respective  states.

Whilst the policy changes in China are causing immediate stress on the sector, this must be seen and acted on as the opportunity it is for Australia (not just our industry). WMAA welcomes the announcement from both New South Wales and Victorian Governments to provide funding towards the MRF and Local Council Sector whilst the markets readjust to the financial impacts of reduced markets and reduced commodity process.

China’s National Sword in disrupting our industry is forcing the necessary change we need that will drive the creation of a true circular economy in Australia. We must keep resources “circulating” at the highest and best value for as long as possible, this is not optional!

WMAA has developed a list of priority actions that it believes are required to address this issue in the short term, and in the longer term to achieve the structural changes required to both decouple the Australian recycling industry from global markets, and achieve the jobs and investment required to make this industry sustainable into the future. At the forefront of these must be the creation of secondary markets for recycled products in Australia, if need be Government may need to step in and mandate recycled content in industries such as manufacturing, packaging, civil infrastructure. The European Union has done this, and no doubt that is where China is heading, we need to too, as only then will we see the jobs, investment and opportunities we should within this essential industry and only then will we no longer be at the mercy of the global market.

Please view the full list of solutions proposed by WMAA at www.wmaa.asn.au

Gayle Sloan
Chief Executive Officer
Waste Management Association of Australia