WMAA: MEM statement does not go far enough

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) welcomes the statement released by Environment Ministers following the 7 December Meeting of Environment Minsters (MEM) but is concerned at what seems like a lack of real action.

WMAA CEO Ms Gayle Sloan said it was a positive that the waste and resource recovery industry remains on the MEM agenda and is encouraged to see Ministers on the same page on important national issues such as a much-needed coordinated approach to harmonised waste levies and a national proximity principle – policies that WMAA has been calling for. However, the lack of short-term actions that should have been the minimum commitment out of Friday’s meeting will prove problematic.

“We are coming up to a year since China rolled out its National Sword policy and still, there are no priority actions that will create demand for the resources we manage in order to alleviate the significant pressure our essential industry is under and in the medium-term, create jobs and boost the Australian economy,” Ms Sloan said.

“We may have a shared vision to transition to a circular economy and while we congratulate Ministers on adopting the 2018 National Waste Policy which includes circular economy principles, and we acknowledge that Ministers have voiced the need for the urgent development of an action plan, this simply does not go far enough, quickly enough.

“As a start, there is not one action in the statement that would drive investment in the industry and the concern is that Ministers are simply kicking the can down the road considering there are two significant elections coming up in 2019. We need to ensure that the 2018 policy does not end up amounting to nothing very much like the 2009 iteration.”

WMAA has consulted and engaged extensively with Ministers and commend them for listening to the industry.

“However, we need to move forward with some real action in the form of the urgent development of a roadmap, targets and policies backed by dollars and stop making statements about committing to commit. We call on Environment Ministers to keep the Federal Government in check, ensuring they take the lead in driving our industry forward,” Ms Sloan said.