Building a thriving WARR ecosystem
Europe and the UK’s circular economies have been on a path of sustained growth because their actions, initiatives, policies and regulations to date are grounded in one quintessential theme: integration.
Our waste and resource recovery (WARR) industry has the attention of Australia’s leaders and the media, and it is important that we maximise this interest and as one collective voice, continue to advocate for a sensible and harmonised approach that integrates not just policy and regulatory frameworks, but all levels of government and all stakeholders in the supply chain.
While change is necessary and imminent, what with an export ban on plastic, paper, glass and tyres on the horizon, change is also not immediate. The challenges facing the industry will not disappear overnight with the announcement of a ban so, it is all the more important to develop strong, considered, and robust long-term policies and regulations, not prompt or encourage knee-jerk reactions such as introducing additional bins which will only seek to place costs on councils and householders, and increase truck movements. Instead, emphasis must be on sustainable long-term solutions that put the onus back on generators and producers to take financial responsibility for the materials they design that end up in our bins, and to strengthen an integrated and common national approach to waste and resource management including market development.
Read and share WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan’s opinion pieces on how all Australians can better manage our resources, and why more bins is not the answer.
The penny appeared to drop at the 2019 Energy from Waste conference in August, when Dr. Peter Plushke, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Health at the City of Nuremberg explained through a concise diagram, how the city manages its flow of resources and residual waste; the take home message being that success comes when we value resources and endeavour to avoid and reduce waste as our first priority, and then understand that in a thriving waste and resource recovery system, there is no single process that is capable of managing all of our residual waste, be it organics, glass, paper, cardboard, packaging, bulky waste, or MSW, on its own. It is about building and strengthening a functional and integrated system based on the waste hierarchy, where each cog does not compete with the other but collectively, all processes play a vital role in driving positive diversion and recovery outcomes.
Dr. Peter Plushke addressing delegates at the 2019 Energy from Waste Conference.
One of WMRR’s many projects this year is to develop a tool to detail the pathways and processes that form an integrated system. This tool will include a checklist to allow all players in the supply chain, including local government, industry, manufacturers, and producers, to undertake a reality check on how integrated their services and operations are against the material streams they produce, collect, and manage, against key circular principles, and aligned to the first priority of avoiding and reducing waste.
The hope is that this WARR tool, which will mirror the City of Nuremberg’s flow chart but be based on Australia’s unique challenges and circumstances, will play a major role in building the integrated systems thinking approach that we need. Watch this space!
This is not the only work WMRR is doing. We know that waste management and resource recovery is a shared responsibility and WARR should also be viewed as a business portfolio with viable economic opportunities. WMRR is proposing that Australia sets up a WRAP UK-esque independent national body that works with governments, businesses and communities to deliver practical solutions to improve resource efficiency, particularly for food and packaging which are so interdependent. This body, in being independent, will be able to bring all stakeholders to the table to forge partnerships, and in addition to services such as protocols, standards, tools, and training, it will drive a national resources plan to tackle issues and offer solutions based on a set of priority material streams.
WMRR also supports a mandated approach to product stewardship for packaging, recognising that we cannot achieve the structural shift nor the proposed export ban with the current voluntary co-regulatory approach, and it is now time for mandated schemes, including funding for the WARR industry as we are seeing overseas. A proposal is being developed as we speak and more on why we need this body is explained in the August/September 2019 CEO report.
The WMRR Board met in Canberra on the sidelines of the very successful Energy from Waste conference, which attracted some 200 delegates with the theme ‘powering change’. As luck would have it, this theme and the location within the nation’s capital also captures the focus of Board discussions, as WMRR seeks to support the Australian Government and various jurisdictions to deliver practical changes that have positive impacts on our sector. While it’s great to see that the conversations of the last 18 months have helped our political leaders gear up to act, it’s now critical that the actions taken are based on a deep understanding of how our sector actually works, and what reforms will really help our essential industry work better in the future.
We certainly live in interesting times, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison himself making various statements on recycling, and COAG agreeing to steps toward banning the export of recyclable materials. WMRR has long advocated for increased effort to build Australia’s domestic reprocessing capacity. Export bans could help focus many minds on making this a reality, although a critical question is how quickly local capacity can be increased, before we jump into cutting off other options. There’s little benefit to closing opportunities in the global circular economy if it only sends more material to local stockpiles or disposal points…
The WMRR Board resolved to allocate some funds to help develop an evidence base for decision makers, pulling together an assessment of the key materials being exported, matched with practical considerations around increasing local reprocessing capacity for these materials. Continue reading.
Energy from waste is an emerging but complex area and there has been a lack of easy-to-understand material to assist governments and community understand how EfW can play a key role in a cohesive WARR system… until now.
At the end of July, WMRR and Bioenergy Australia unveiled the first in a series of energy from waste (EfW) fact sheets that focuses on thermal treatment. This fact sheet will play a key role in the education piece and seeks to counter misinformation around EfW as interest and momentum builds.
The fact sheet, which can be downloaded here, answers some of the common questions that often stems from concern, such as does EfW smell? Is it safe? Does it reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and how does EfW fit in a circular economy? Continue reading.
Waste Reduction Minister a breath of fresh air
In July, WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, was in Canberra to meet newly-appointed Federal Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction, the Hon. Trevor Evans MP, and he showed a deep understanding of the importance of our essential waste and resource recovery industry.
Ms Sloan’s visit came days after it was reported that the Minister was planning to unveil “ambitious” new targets related to sustainable procurement by all State governments, which WMRR has been consistently calling for over the last 18 months. Ms Sloan met with Minister Evans to get an understanding of what the next steps would be.
“It became very clear early in the meeting that the Minister understands the significance creating demand and markets for recycled products has on driving our industry forward. His work in the retail industry as CEO of the National Retail Association has also given him much-needed perspective and experience in supply chain management, which bodes well for industry as he has a wealth of knowledge on the roles, responsibilities and market demands within a supply chain,” Ms Sloan said.
Minister Evans has said that he would seek agreement on proposed procurement targets at the next Meeting of Environment Ministers, adding that the Commonwealth will offer funding support to develop Australia’s remanufacturing sector. Read more
Championing our WARR-iors
If you haven’t already heard, the WARR Awards are back in 2019, brought to you by WMRR and Inside Waste, and we expect this year to be bigger and better.
Nominations for awards are open till 30 September 2019 across 10 categories:
We want to hear from you. To find out more about the categories, nomination criteria, and selection process, or to nominate for any (or all!) of these categories, click here.
A shortlist of finalists for each category will be announced on 28 October 2019 and the winners unveiled at the 2019 WARR Awards and Gala Dinner.
Date: Thursday, 14 November 2019
Time: 6.30p.m.-11p.m. AEDT
Venue: Australian National Maritime Museum, 2 Murray Street, Sydney 2000
Cost (all prices inclusive of GST): $165 WMRR members, $198 non-WMRR members, $165 per person for a table of 10.
Get your tickets here.
View WMRR's national submissions here.
View WMRR's VIC submissions here.
View WMRR's QLD submissions here.
View WMRR's SA submissions here.
View WMRR's WA submissions here.
25-26 September - Waste & Recycle Conference (Perth)
The Conference theme this year is ‘Whose WARR is it anyway?’ Hosted by WMRR, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER), and Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA), Waste & Recycle is the leading waste and resource recovery event in Western Australia.
27 September – SA Branch Seminar: Pursuing a Circular Economy (Adelaide)
The SA Branch of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) is hosting a special seminar on Friday, 27 September 2019, featuring guest speaker Herman Huisman from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Netherlands.
15-17 October 2019 - WasteQ (Toowoomba)
At a time of massive industry change, the conference will focus on the opportunities that change brings for regional Queensland and highlight the innovation already on display. Join in discussions over the levy, CRS, waste strategy, market development, and a wide range of topics impacting the state, and in particular, regional Queensland. It will be supported by other areas of interest including: Regional Best Practice & Innovation; Circular Economy; Education & Community Engagement; Sustainable Procurement; and Organics.
23 October 2019 – Women of Waste Leadership Breakfast NSW (Sydney)
The Waste Management & Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) is pleased to announce the Women of Waste Leadership Breakfast is being held on Wednesday 23 October 2019 at Kirribilli Club. This event is designed to recognise women who are driving change in industry, and in doing so, are breaking down barriers and creating new career prospects for the next generation.
6 November 2019 – Tasmanian Waste & Resource Recovery Forum (Hobart)
Further details to follow.