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Closing the loop

When Gayle Sloan assumed the role of Chief Executive of the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) in November 2016, she did so with the promise of finding a balance between the organisation’s role as a lobbyist on behalf of the industry and as a body that serves its members.

Since her appointment, Sloan has been seeking to make good on that promise by getting around to as many WMAA branch meetings as possible, while also getting familiar with the relevant government and institutional bodies that she will work with in her new role.

“I think we need to better at lobbying, advocacy and policy development and ensure that we include the membership in this process,” Sloan tells Waste Management Review.

“Through our branches and meetings with government agencies, I’m hearing very clearly that they want to deal directly with one body as a national peak body, so we can get the best policy outcomes for the industry.”

WMAA is well placed to do so, Sloan says, given it is a ‘broad church’ that represents all areas and sectors of the industry. In fact, its unique Division Structure enables it to provide very specific and technical policy input that has been well tested due to WMAA’s diversity.

While the new Chief Executive has come to the WMAA role after three years in contract management and government relations at Visy Recycling, her passion for the industry stems from more than a decade of experience working in government and policy: It was while working for the City of Sydney in 2002 under the administration of Frank Sartor and then-Lord Mayor Lucy Turnbull that Sloan first came into contact with the waste industry, working on the city’s cleaning and domestic waste functions, while also doing tenders and procurement in the field.

As such, an area Sloan is keen to see significant development in is the field of legislation: “One of the industry’s biggest challenges is getting consistent legislation across Australia,” she says. “We need a common approach to issues such as levies and getting that unified approach of understanding and issues.”

Sloan points to one specific example of this as being the Container Deposit Scheme, which is being enacted in New South Wales this year, and then starting up in Queensland in 2018. Under the scheme, anyone who returns an empty eligible beverage container
to an approved NSW collection depot or reverse vending machine will be eligible for a 10-cent refund. A network of depots and reverse vending machines will open across NSW to receive the empty containers.

However, for companies with operations across both states, this staggering of the timeline will present a number of practical challenges as they try to manage their business operations across both legislative regions, Sloan explains.

To read more, see page 34 of Issue 10.