WMAA: NSW needs to get on with the job

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has this week written to the New South Wales Legislative Council following a disappointing response from NSW Environment Minister Ms Gabrielle Upton, MP, to recommendations from the Energy from Waste (EfW) Technology Parliamentary Inquiry.

The EfW Technology Parliamentary Inquiry was established on 6 April 2017 to inquire into and report on matters relating to the waste disposal industry in the State, with particular reference to EfW technology. Following five hearings and close to 400 submissions, the Planning and Environment Portfolio then published a report in March 2018 comprising an extensive list of recommendations.

WMAA considers the Inquiry an important step in providing clarity around the role of EfW in a sustainable waste and resource recovery industry. But instead of building on the momentum created by the Inquiry, Minister Upton’s response, which was tabled in Parliament on 28 September 2018, offers little that is constructive.

“The NSW Government’s response was disappointing. Minister Upton simply acknowledged the Committee’s recommendations or referenced the Government’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative without detailing how the latter supports, justifies, or defies the recommendations,” WMAA CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“The Minister’s approach is extremely concerning and it is the latest display of an inability to provide leadership or make decisions. This incapacity has resulted in significant delays, consultations with no real outcomes, and has added to industry’s frustration.”

To ensure that the EfW discussion does not stagnate or lose steam, WMAA has prepared a comprehensive and constructive response which it is urging the Committee to review and take into consideration.

Amongst WMAA’s recommendations are:

  • greater and more flexible funding from the NSW levy being returned to industry to incentivise landfill diversion;
  • completion of the stalled Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Strategy to provide certainty to community, industry, and investors;
  • creation of a market development agency similar to Sustainability Victoria and Green Industries South Australia, one that is independent of the EPA;
  • investigation of the viability of providing the EPA with greater powers to manage illegal and unlawful operators; and
  • development of a specific Waste and Resource Recovery State and Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).

The industry, both in the NSW and nationally, is at a crossroads. China’s National Sword policy has shone light on the opportunity to increase and improve domestic processing, which will in turn create jobs and boost the economy.

While EfW is only one of a range of waste management options, the NSW Government’s lacklustre response to what is a comprehensive piece of work, appears to be endemic in the Minister’s office.

“The NSW Government needs to decide if it will follow in the footsteps of its counterparts - Queensland, WA, Victoria, and SA – that have continued to invest and innovate with industry to create more jobs and greater investment, or if it will continue to procrastinate and avoid making decisions, failing to provide leadership at a time when NSW most needs it,” Ms Sloan said. 

Please find WMAA's response to the recommendations from the Energy from Waste (EfW) Technology Parliamentary Inquiry here .

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