WMRR's Wrap Up will showcase the Association’s monthly activities, including media releases, a snapshot of our CEO’s appearances in mainstream and trade media, and WMRR’s policy submissions for the month (in this iteration, we will look back on activities in October), as well as a few of our forthcoming events and conferences. You will also find WMRR CEO’s bi-monthly Inside Waste CEO column and National President’s Board communiqué in most of these bulletins.
We hope you enjoy our WMRR Wrap Up.
Although COVID-19 restrictions dashed WMRR’s original plans for the Board to meet in person at WMRR’s 2021 WARRQ in sunny Bundaberg, directors came together online on 19 October 2021 for its fifth Board meeting this year.
One of the more significant discussions centred on the NSW EPA’s proposal to cease permitting recovered fines from mixed waste and skip bins being applied to land, a decision that comes on the heels of other investment-deterring moves by the EPA.
COVID-19 also remained a talking point at this meeting, with good reason, and it was noted that our essential WARR industry, for which there are varying vaccination mandates or expectations across states, has a high vaccination compliance rate. While restrictions are starting to ease, particularly on the east coast where most of the lockdowns have occurred, WMRR has had to make the difficult decision to move the 2021 Energy from Waste conference to 16-17 March 2022. Members will now have three (3) conferences to look forward to next year – EfW, ENVIRO (WMRR’s circular economy conference), and the biennial WARR SA.
In preparing WMRR’s budget for consideration by the Audit and Risk Committee and the Board in December, directors discussed the growing value of WMRR’s membership benefits, evidenced in the continued increase in the number of webinars in 2020-21 as well as knowledge-sharing and communications amongst and to members. To reflect WMRR’s increasing value, and in line with CPI, the Board approved a small 3% increase in WMRR membership fees across all categories, with the exception of Peak members, in 2022.
From the CEO's desk
The desire to improve food and organic material management in Australia is growing, with the national conversation moving towards how we embrace a more circular food system and ‘FOGO’ (Food Organics Garden Organics) being the buzzword on everyone’s lips.
In good news, states and territories are continuing to plan for and roll out local government FOGO systems -a snapshot of where Australia’s states and territories are at in their respective FOGO journeys can be downloaded here - and the federal government has jumped on the bandwagon, providing support through its recently released $67 million Food Waste for Healthy Soils Fund. The initiative, which will require co-contributions from participating jurisdictions and industry, aims to increase Australia’s organic waste recycling rate from 49% to 80% by 2030 through building FOGO infrastructure and fostering a regenerative approach to food systems that returns the nutrients embedded in recycled organics to our soils.
However, as with all steps involved in the transition to a more regenerative food system and the circular economy in general, setting up an effective, long-term organics system requires integrated planning.
For example, household FOGO schemes must have four (4) integrated components in order to be successful. The first is MSW kerbside collection infrastructure and services for source separated food and organic materials (including garden waste). Secondly, these must be accompanied by clear and consistent communication to educate households on what can be accepted in the FOGO bin. The third component involves recycling and repurposing these organic materials – often as compost, or for energy generation via anaerobic digestion. The fourth element underpinning all of this (and clearly informing the education program) is the regulatory regime that enables the recycled organic material to be returned as a raw material for beneficial re-use such as applying compost to agricultural land.
WMRR at the table
In the month of October, WMRR has been actively advocating on behalf of industry across a range of significant policy, operational, and regulatory changes to meet the diverse needs of our members.
NSW RECOVERED FINES RRO
The NSW EPA is proposing to cease permitting recovered fines from mixed waste and skip bins being applied to land and was seeking feedback on the proposed revocation of the recovered fines order and exemptions, as well as the proposed new recovered soil order and exemption that will allow for land application of recovered soils that do not contain recovered fines. Over the month of October, WMRR actively engaged with the EPA on the proposed revocation and a sub-group of WMRR's NSW C&D working group, along with WCRA, have worked together on a detailed report and submission in response to these proposals.
CONTAINER DEPOSIT SCHEMES
Planning for Victoria’s and Tasmania’s container deposit schemes is progressing and the WMRR CEO is a member of the CDS advisory groups in each state. These groups have been meeting regularly to progress CDS design, legislation, and other issues. A split responsibility model has received overwhelming support in both jurisdictions; Victoria is expected to release its tender in early 2022 while Tasmania is close to finalising its service standards, which should be in the market by the end of 2021. In SA, the government has released its 'Improving South Australia's Recycling Makes Cents' discussion paper as part of its review of the state's container deposit scheme. The CEO is also on the SA CDS reference group that is undertaking this review.
WMRR’s landfill working groups have been actively engaging with their state regulators on a range of landfill issues. In Queensland, WMRR is still trying to work with DES to progress outstanding landfill levy issues while over in Victoria, the landfill working group, together with ALOA, have been working on challenges related to the EPA’s heavy-handed approach to tipping face sizes. A summary of issues, impacts and solutions in relation to the interpretation and management of the tip face have been compiled in a letter, which has been sent to the Victorian EPA, in order to develop a common-sense approach to managing this area. Recent discussions in NSW indicate that a similar approach to the NSW EPA may also be required. WMRR is also finalising a letter to the NSW EPA on issues related to the levy exemption for engineered fill material. In SA, a sub-group assisted WMRR with its submission to the ERD committee’s inquiry into PFAS management and disposal.
There has been active engagement with the governments in NSW, Victoria and Queensland in relation to issues such as vaccination rates (industry has a very high compliance), rapid antigen testing applicability, cross border access, and approvals. WMRR has been able to provide examples across jurisdictions of what has worked well, particularly in relation to clear documentation and advice to assist with jurisdictions responding to these issues that are being raised that may have already been addressed well elsewhere.
TASKFORCE AND ADVISORY GROUPS
WMRR’s CEO continues to participate in a number of federal and state government taskforces and advisory groups, including the NSW EPA's waste advisory group, and EPA Victoria's Waste Industry Stand Up.
In October, WMRR welcomed a number of new members, with the following organisations either increasing their representation in the association through affiliate and/or individual membership, or getting a head start on their 2022 membership renewal:
WMRR is also delighted to welcome the following organisations to the WMRR fold:
WMRR members can take advantage of a host of benefits, from invites to free member-only events and discounted conference and event registrations, to participation in our state-based working groups. For further information about 2022 membership, or if you are a member and would like to find out more about joining our working groups, please contact the national office at [email protected]
WMRR members may access all of the Association’s policy submissions here; members will need to login to view these documents.
Media releases and coverage
WMRR’s media releases and articles can be found here.
WMRR also publishes a weekly Resource Bulletin that provides a national update of important legislation and policy moves, as well as government funding and events. To subscribe to this weekly bulletin, email [email protected]
This just in! WMRR is in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today, in a special WARR report ahead of National Recycling Week. It’s all about how Australians can use their purchasing power to enact change by buying Australian recycled so that the bin is not the final destination. Get your papers today or read more here.
Conferences and events
The biennial WARRQ – formerly Waste Q – conference was a hit in October. Held in Bundaberg on 20 and 21 October, more than 100 delegates came together to discuss how the WARR sector could be future-proofed to take Queensland “to 2030 and beyond”.
The conference delved into state and regional best practice and innovation, current and new policy directions, challenging waste streams and the opportunities they present, and the importance of education in long-term planning.
The conference also featured a sold out technical tour to five (5) impressive WARR sites, and brought delegates together for a night of networking at the conference dinner.
It's an exciting time for the Tasmanian waste and resource recovery (WARR) sector, with the forthcoming waste levy roll-out, 2022 container refund scheme, as well as organics and infrastructure strategies that are being developed.
On that note, WMRR will be hosting its second Waste & Resource Recovery Forum of the year, which will be held in Launceston on Thursday, 11 November 2021.
This half-day forum will kick-off at noon, followed by end-of-year networking drinks.
The first forum in March was a sold out event so you'll want to book your tickets quickly! The full program and further information can be found here.