CEO Report: Inside Waste December 17 - January 18

The upcoming Queensland election has very quickly brought waste management into focus and, sadly, how it is not seen as an ‘essential service.’

As you are aware, the waste, recycling and remanufacturing industry in Australia, currently contributes $15 billion annually to the economy as well as employing 50,000 people.  

At present, Queensland continues to be one of the largest generators of waste, however one of the poorest diverters of waste from landfill.  

The absence of a comprehensive waste strategy, underpinned by a landfill levy, results in Queensland maintaining a “take, make and dispose” approach to waste and resource recovery when the remainder of Australia (and the developed world) has moved towards thinking circular.

As such there is a real opportunity for Queensland to develop and introduce policy settings that will support the return materials back to the productive economy, displacing the need for virgin materials in the manufacture of new products, via the circular economy.  

The current linear approach adversely impacts Queensland in many ways, not the least of which being making it difficult for resource recovery industries to invest depriving Queensland of the opportunity to create new jobs.

WMAA values our developing relationship with the Queensland Government, as evidenced by recent participation in a range of initiatives including the introduction of the Container Refund Scheme, Inquiry into the Interstate Transportation of Waste, the review of Regulated Waste Classification and Waste-Related Environmentally Relevant Activity (ERA) frameworks.  WMAA welcomes the current Government’s commitment to engaging with industry and trusts that this commitment will continue by way of tangible action and funding support post the upcoming election.

Right now inconsistent State regulation creates a massive incentive for millions of tonnes of waste to be transported many hundreds of kilometres.  This creates environmental harm and this situation must stop.  Recent media attention focused on NSW and QLD but this is a nationwide issue.  

The future of our industry is in the circular economy, and our assisting in helping with issues such as sustainable energy and the creation of new “green collar” manufacturing jobs in Australia, and very much including in regional Australia. We’re not going to create a fly-in-fly-out waste sector, the nature of what we do means we need to do it close to the communities where people already live and generate waste materials. 

Very few if any other industry can do as much in terms of creating sustainable, long term local jobs that support local economies and contribute so much towards the sorts of Sustainable Development Goals that Australia is already committed to.

Gayle Sloan
Chief Executive Officer
Waste Management Association of Australia