VWMA State Conference returns

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) State Conference will be returning to the Yarra Valley Lodge 30-31 July.

The conference will provide a forum for business, local and state government to discuss issues relevant to the waste and resource recovery sector.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the two day program had been crafted to address key challenges for the sector including EPA updates, legal insights into regulatory changes, labor and overseas workers and technology updates.

Additionally, attendees will hear from Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who will present on the Victorian Government’s waste and resource recovery agenda.

“We received such positive feedback to our conference last year that related to the tangible benefits our conference offered their business, either by engaging with government officials, networking and connecting with people to provide solutions to their challenges,” Mr Smith said.

The conference will also feature an assessment of Victoria’s infrastructure needs and one month check ins of prescribed industrial waste tickets and the e-waste ban.

“There will also be information about the new Circular Economy Issues Paper, as well as workshops covering grants and urban planning,” Mr Smith said.

“This event is opened to members and non-members, basically anyone working in, with or for the sector would benefit in attending.”

Other speakers include Choice Energy CEO Christopher Dean, Infrastructure Victoria Resource Recovery and Recycling Project Director Elissa McNamara and National Waste and Recycling Industry Council CEO Rose Reed.

For more information contact VWMA or access the conference program here.

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Victorians transition to digital PIW certificates

The Victorian Waste Management Association has raised concerns about the waste industry’s preparedness for compulsory electronic prescribed industrial waste transport certificates by 1 July, 2019.

EPA Victoria (EPA) currently uses a mix of electronic and paper waste transport certificates for prescribed industrial waste (PIW).

EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said that the EPA will not accept the traditional carbon copy certificates after 1 July 2019. She said that waste operators experiencing difficulty accessing the electronic system should contact EPA as soon as practicable.

The new system aims to enable the EPA to monitor the movement of waste more quickly and accurately, compared to the paper certificates, which can be time consuming and difficult to process.

Under the new system, all holders will be required to submit electronic waste transport certificates. Waste producers, transporters and receivers will need to register a Portal Account with EPA to use the system, via the EPA website.

The EPA currently uses a mix of electronic and paper waste transport certificates – with up to 100,000 paper certificates received each year.

The EPA will invest $5.5 million to switch to a fully GPS electronic tracking system to better record the production, movement and receipt of industrial waste.

The transition forms part of a suite of measures to crack down on the illegal storage of hazardous waste.

The centrepiece is a new integrated waste tracking tool, with improved data analytics and reporting. This will deliver insights on sector activity, trends and highlight potential illegal activity.

EPA’s tracking system will be finalised by March 2020, so that industry has three months to transition before the new Environment Protection Act legislation comes into effect on 1 July 2020.

The new legislation aims to introduce modern surveillance devices, tougher penalties and a greater focus on industry responsibility and proactively managing risks to human health and environment.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said that 10-week notice period to transition from paper to electronics hasn’t provided many opportunities for discussions with business on the impacts of this change. He noted that in particular, this would affect people who act as agents or third parties for a generator or receiver.

Mr Smith pointed out that the discovery of illegally stored chemical stockpiles in Melbourne earlier this year shone a light on the management of PIW across Victoria and the EPA’s role in preventing harm to the environment and public health.

“The Bradbury fire highlighted deficiencies in the current administration of the PIW system and the Victorian Government had to act,” Mr Smith said.

He said that the VWMA supports this action. However, he pointed out that government needs to ensure the implementation of this change doesn’t result in unintended consequences from rogue operators that will actively look for ways around the system while at the same time burden compliant businesses further.

“I don’t think anyone is doubting the government’s intent with these changes. The recent events are unacceptable and action needs to be taken,” Mr Smith said.

“It’s just really important, like with any change, business is provided an opportunity to engage in discussion on how these changes will be felt and tackle any loopholes together.

To support businesses with the transition, EPA is supporting the VWMA to hold a series of face-to-face sessions this week that will provide businesses an opportunity to walk through the online system.

The sessions will hear about how the changes will come together and receive further updates from the VWMA on what they are doing to support their members through this transition.

The sessions will also provide an opportunity for business to engage in discussion around potential or perceived impacts of the change.

Mr Smith said the information sessions would not be possible without the support of the EPA.

“It’s great to see EPA keen to assist businesses with one-on-one assistance if needed. I understand that EPA have put more staff on to help with the transition.

“I’d encourage anyone who may be impacted to attend in person or join remotely via the webinar service we will offer. People can also phone in to listen if they don’t have internet access.”

Dr Wilkinson said that the EPA had conducted an extensive engagement program with the waste industry to facilitate this transition.

“Businesses that are concerned that they cannot use the electronic tracking system have been asked to contact EPA to outline the circumstances preventing them from accessing the system,” Dr Wilkinson said.

“EPA will work with each duty holder to identify a solution to enable them to continue to comply with their obligations under the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009.”

She said that facilities that receive waste have all registered to use electronic certificates.

“Waste producers, accredited agents, transporters and receivers are required to ensure they are compliant with the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009.”

She said that waste receivers should notify EPA if a waste transporter presents waste that does not have an electronic waste transport certificate.

“Receivers should also inform the transporter of the requirement to use electronic certificates and direct them to contact EPA on 1300 EPA VIC if they are not yet registered to use electronic certificates so that EPA can facilitate their immediate transition to the electronic system.”

Dr Wilkinson said that some waste receivers are adopting the position of refusing to accept any waste that is tracked using the traditional carbon copy certificates after 1 July 2019.

“EPA supports businesses who communicate this position to companies that they are expecting to receive waste from. EPA will refund unused carbon copy certificates that are returned to EPA by 31 July 2019, having extended this date from 30 June 2019.

“Development of the EPA’s tracking system continues and EPA is satisfied with the progress in developing the new tracking system ready for March 2020.”

For information on the VWMA sessions and how you participate please contact the VWMA/VTA on 03 9646 8590 or visit. The sessions will be held at the VWMA office in Port Melbourne on the following dates:

  • Session 1: 8:30am (Thursday 27 June) maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Session 2: 12:30pm (Thursday 27 June) maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Special Session 3: 3:30pm (Thursday 27 June) – Intended for major projects, earth movers and contaminated soils. Maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Session 4: 8:30am (Friday 28 June) maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Session 5: 12:30pm (Friday 28 June) maximum capacity 40 people.

The VWMA is also offering remote access for people unable to attend in person. Attendees can join via a virtual meeting and view the session online.

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Essential Services Commission to review Victorian waste sector

The Essential Services Commission will review waste and recycling services in Victoria to assess whether they should be regulated as an essential service like water and energy.

A further review of the landfill levy will also be conducted, to consider the current and future effectiveness of the initiative as an economic instrument for influencing waste management practices.

A $14.3 million Recycling Industry Development Fund has been established, targeting secondary processing infrastructure for priority materials such as paper, cardboard and plastics.

A $13.8 million program to provide incentives for new entrants to the Victorian recycling market has also been announced.

The Victorian Government announced the review in conjunction with a new $34.9 million package of recycling reforms.

Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) Executive Officer Mark Smith welcomed the review.

“The VWMA welcomes consultation by the Essential Service Commission, with us and our members,” Mr Smith says.

“Grants can be great, but are not always the best method to support private investment. I’d like to see funding bodies exploring new ways for business to access funds, and this shouldn’t result in business competing with local government.”

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the review will help create a more stable and productive recycling sector.

“It’s more important than ever to minimise the amount of waste we produce and ensure we’re recycling as many items as possible,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

She said the new initiatives are an important step in planning for the future of the waste and recycling industry.

“The package will provide support to Victorian councils when it comes to negotiating new contracts for recycling services, helping to improve business performance and put better contingency plans in place,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

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Preparing for the Victorian e-waste ban

With the Victorian e-waste to landfill ban less than six weeks away, the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is holding an event to prepare delegates on 28 May.

Once the ban comes into effect, any device with a power cord or battery will be prohibited from landfill.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the ban had been pushed from its original 2018 start date due to issues impacting the Victorian waste sector.

“We’ve all had a lot going on, and recent events impacting the waste and resource recovery sector have almost made us forget what’s around the corner,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re putting this event on in response to member feedback, and those of the broader sector, who are concerned with the lack of information they have in regard to the incoming e-waste to landfill ban.”

Mr Smith said the event will provide key information to prepare attendees, and also facilitate the opportunity to engage with peers and raise issues and concerns.

“Attendees can also speak directly with government agencies working to implement the commitment to support e-waste resource recovery,” Mr Smith said.

“The event will feature presentations from the Department of Environment, a Q&A with the EPA on compliance and an e-waste infrastructure build update from Sustainability Victoria.”

Mr Smith said there will also be presentations on battery stewardship and the rise of advanced machinery and robotics.

“Delegates will have the opportunity to raise questions, which VWMA will formally raise with government agencies,” Mr Smith said.

“By hosting this event in Ballarat – about an hour out of Melbourne – we can ensure regional members get access and also that our metropolitan members can attend.”

The event will run in partnership with Barwon South West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, CMA Ecocycle and the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform.

VWMA members and delegates from within the Barwon South West and Grampians Central West regions can purchase tickets for $50, which includes morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and workshop materials for the day.

The event will be held at the Mercure Hotel in Ballarat, with accomodation available on site.

To make a booking visit VWMA’s website.

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Quantifying the Victorian contribution

A recent study by the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has quantified the economic contribution the sector makes to the Victorian economy.

The data follows the same modelling recently used by National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) state and territory affiliates Waste and Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) and Waste and Recycling Industry Northern Territory (WRINT).   

The VWMA commissioned economist Nick Behrens, Director of Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions, to complete a report that breaks down the economic and social contribution of the waste management and secondary resources industry to the Victorian economy. 

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the interconnected waste and resource recovery network seen nationwide comprises a fleet of vehicles, other machinery and infrastructure assets to consolidate, process, recovery, treat, dispose or export waste which all aspects of the economy produce.

“I think that’s something the broader economy doesn’t always recognise,” Mr Smith said.

The Victorian snapshot shows that more than 1100 businesses create 23,000 direct Victorian jobs. The overall industry, including the government and private sector, creates an annual turnover of $3.7 billion. 

This contribution makes up $2.3 billion of Victorian gross state product of the state’s roughly $399 billion of gross state product. 

Mr Smith said that the report shows the waste sector provides an essential service similar to that of water, electricity and roads/logistics.

“This report is the first time we’ve articulated our benefit with data back to the community or to key parts of government at a local, state or federal level,” Mr Smith said.

“Membership with state-based associations such as the VWMA empowers us to act on our members’ behalves and for the interests of the sector. It’s through our members’ support that we’ve been able to carry out this research.”

Mr Smith said that the valuable data and information provides the VWMA with evidence to shape and define the state’s waste management and resource recovery narrative.

“It provides us with authoritative information about the sector which should not be underestimated when we frame the valuable contribution we make to the economy [direct and in-direct], the environment and society.”

The waste and resource recovery sector also supports the growing balance of the Sustainability Fund (sourced through landfill levies). 

“It’s really important to recognise the critical support role the sector plays in supporting the state government’s collection of landfill levies which we understand to be about $215 million a year. The Sustainability Fund is critical in funding the EPA, Sustainability Victoria and other agencies working to make Victoria safe, prosperous and sustainable.”

“The data sets highlight a compelling story about what the private sector’s stake in waste and resource recovery currently looks like. Our data indicates that state government contributions are minuscule when compared to the investments and contribution of the private sector.”

Mr Smith said that the report also highlights industry’s commitment to ensuring a sustainable and efficient waste and resource recovery network.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council CEO Rose Read said that the report is an important step for the sector in telling its story about the benefits it delivers to the community, councils, the environment and businesses.

“I’m optimistic that other states will follow Victoria, Queensland and Northern Territory’s footsteps and adopt the same methodology developed by Queensland Economy Advocacy Solutions.”

Fast Facts

How the VWMA will use the data:

  • It will help contextualise and frame the broader contribution to Victoria
  • It will work with other associations to help inform the national contribution
  • It will use the data to engage with government, the media and politicians about the important role the sector plays.

How the waste sector can use the data:

  • When talking about their business, contribution and local benefits
  • Combine with other applications or documents that communicate the sector’s broader benefits.

How government can use the data:

  • In government reports or documents
  • To prevent duplications of existing work carried out by the private sector
  • To work with associations to better engage with businesses wanting to drive outcomes for the sector.

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VWMA partners with EPA for waste and recycling training

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is partnering with Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) to develop a training package that seeks to equip operators with information and tools to better manage fire risks.

The training course will be delivered by VWMA as part of its industry training program to be modelled on the Management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials – guideline.

The training will equip operators with information and tools to understand the fire hazards associated with their activities and take steps to reduce risk. It will include the management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials in a manner that protects the environment and human health from the risk of fire.

EPA sees the partnership with VWMA as an important way of ensuring ongoing implementation of the management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials – guideline and will be seeking to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith highlighted that last year’s VWMA State Conference saw a commitment from the association to work with insurance sector and legal firms, consultants and government to tackle rising insurance costs and the risk of fire at sites.

“This announcement today lays the foundation for us to move forward. Members can expect further information about additional services we will be rolling out at our state conference on 30/31 July,” Mr Smith said.

“Figures from DELWP reveal more than 100 recycling facility fires have happened in the last 10 years, with the largest costing Victorian Government over $110 million. We want to reduce instances of fires and work with insurance companies to show that the sector is making inroads to lift standards.

“Participating in this training will demonstrate a waste and resource recovery operator’s willingness and commitment to identify and manage risk.  It will also support business lower their risk profiles, which will increasingly be expected if the sector wants to remain insurable.”

EPA CEO Cathy Wilkinson said that through extensive engagement with industry and local government, EPA has developed practical guidelines on how to comply with the Victorian Government’s Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials).

The VWMA and EPA recognise the need to promote better practice through a shared commitment to drive industry leadership in the preventative management of combustible recyclable and waste materials. The VWMA aims to support its members and the waste and resource recovery sector to reduce the frequency, scale and severity of fires at waste and resource recovery facilities.

In a statement, the VWMA noted that the Victorian waste and resource recovery sector provides over 23,000 direct and indirect jobs across over 1200 businesses and is an essential community service supporting all the waste management needs of every Victorian business and household.

Currently, the sector is responding to changes in the regulatory environment around fire risk and management following new government policy introduced after several major fires.

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Zero-waste event for VWMA’s international composting week

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) will be running a “zero-waste event” as part of International Composting Awareness Week (ICAW), including site tours and an industry breakfast, from 6 to 12 May in Melbourne.

ICAW is a week of activities, events and publicity to improve awareness of the importance of compost, a valuable organic resource and to promote compost use, knowledge and products.

The week is designed to generate awareness about the importance of composting and promote its wider use.

VWMA will be running a series of events to raise the profile of composting and organic resource recovery, profile the waste hierarchy and support the people and businesses innovating in the sector. Both members and non-members are invited to attend.

VWMA Chief Executive Officer Mark said that the VWMA believes this will be its first zero waste event, made possible through its partnerships with City of Port Phillip, Corio Waste Management/Western Composting, STREAT and BioPak.

Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused working toward a goal of no trash to be sent to landfills.

Mr Smith said that this effectively means everything the VWMA, event caterer and partnering organisations bring into the St Kilda Town Hall for Monday’s ICAW Breakfast will be recyclable or compostable and should become a standard request by anyone organising events of similar scale/features.

VWMA is also working in conjunction with organisations such as Compost Revolution, Yume, Cleanaway, Melbourne Zoo, Melbourne Cricket Ground to promote business composting efficiency and positive environmental outcomes.

So where will this event’s organic waste from the breakfast end up?

The waste will be processed in Western Composting Technology’ best practise facility in Shepparton Central Victoria.

Working with Corio Waste Management and Western Composting Technology, the VWMA will deliver several 120-litre food waste containers and bioplastic bags to the City of Port Phillip kitchen within the venue space. After which time the bins will be removed and material transported to Shepparton after consolidation in Altona.

The food waste will then be processed into quality certified 4454-2012 compost and on sold to our customers within the Goulburn Valley region. The only requirement is that the material placed into the bins is food waste only in approved compostable bags.

Mr Smith said VWMA have organised behind the scenes access to a number of sites and facilities for its members and others interested in the industry.

“It’s so important that we build on national and international weeks of relevance to bring a positive profile to the great work happening in this space,” Mr Smith said.

“We believe these events will do that and I encourage anyone that has an interest in this space to come along. I hope tours showcasing the sector will become a standard activity for us in Victoria.”

In addition to breakfast on Monday the VWMA is also working with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group, CERES, Melbourne Zoo, MCG, South Melbourne Market and Cleanaway to take a behind the scenes tour of how different organisations manage organic waste.

Featured events:

Monday 6 May:

Breakfast and program showcase:
A working breakfast will take place at the St Kilda Town Hall. Hear from leaders in sustainable packaging, food rescue, FOGO and more. The breakfast will include prizes and competitions for the attendees as well an outline of the City of Port Phillip’s waste strategy. Attendees at this event will include waste industry, local government, state government, councillors and MPs.

Thursday 9 May

Site tours:

The VWMA has created a unique opportunity to showcase the technology and approaches adopted by different businesses, entertainment venues/sites and operators working to better manage organic waste. The tour will include pick up, travel and drop off with prices including catering for the day.

Sites include: MCG, Melbourne Zoo, Cleanaway organic facility (Dandenong), CERES and South Melbourne Market.

For more information please visit the VWMA website. You can read more about ICAW here.

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Industry input sought for VWMA economic report

Victorian waste and recycling companies are being called on to contribute to an industry report on the economic and social contributions the sector provides.

The report, commissioned by the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA), aims to provide specific metrics the waste and recycling industry generates for local, regional and national communities.

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It will also aim to help improve communication between the industry, government and community to help build confidence and trust in the sector.

The VWMA aims to highlight the importance the environmental and health benefits of the sector to the community as well as the economic contributions from jobs and investment.

Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions Economist Nick Behrens is working with VWMA to complete the project, which is similar to work carried out in Queensland and currently in the Northern Territory.

A survey is currently open until 14 September to gather data to create anonymous, aggregated high level industry statistics which will be drawn upon to prepare various positions, communications and policy formation in the future.

The survey also includes questions about insurance to, general questions about government guidance and accessing government support.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said it is important for the waste sector to come together and start to shape its own story for the government.

“An important element in that story involves the contribution made to the Victorian economy,” Mr Smith said.

“Most industry sectors publish their own data sets and reports into economic contribution and employee numbers to communicate and express their importance to local and state government and to the community. It is important our industry does the same.

“With an election this year and a new four year-term state government elected, this report will be a useful resource for our sector in advocating for industry support, regional development and regulatory and insurance challenges into the future.”

To complete the survey, click here. Results are anticipated to be released in the first week of October 2018.