WRIQ announces 2019 industry awards finalists

The Waste Recycling Industry Association QLD (WRIQ) has announced category finalists for the WRIQ 2019 Industry Awards.

WRIQ CEO Rick Ralph said the awards aim to recognise individuals and projects that contribute to Queensland’s waste management and resource recovery sector.

“The individuals and teams selected as finalists have demonstrated not only a high level of proficiency at their jobs, but also their dedication and commitment to improving and developing Queensland’s essential waste management and resource recovery industry,” Mr Ralph said.

“I thank all those who nominated for this year’s awards for their contribution to the industry and congratulate all deserving finalists.”

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner 19 July at the Brisbane Hilton.

Finalists:

Administrator of the year: SoilCyclers Sarah Armstrong, Raw Metal Corp Steffanie-Jo Kelly and Kanga Bins Tiffany Lim.

Maintenance employee of the year: Suez Randall Mckey, Westrex Services Jason Noble and BMI Group Andrew Russell.

Plant and equipment operator of the year: Cleanaway Cyril Ballard and Suez Kane Pym, Marlyn Compost Andrew Russell.

Trainee or apprentice of the year: Cleanaway Taryn Batt, Suez Dwayne Brown and Sims Metal Management Whitney Simpson.

Driver of the year: Raw Metal Corp Gary Arnold, SUEZ Recycling and Recovery Antony Francis and Cleanaway Paul O’Hara.

Resource recovery employee of the year: Veolia Gary Applegate, SoilCyclers Simon Brakels and BMI Group Corey Michael.

Collaborative achievement in resource recovery: Cleanaway container refund scheme project implementation, Coastal Skip Bin Hire “Recycling Solutions” and Kanga Bins container refund and ART machine installation.

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QLD releases energy from waste policy

The public is being invited to comment on the Queensland Government’s Energy-from-Waste policy discussion paper, released earlier this week.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said finding alternative uses for waste was becoming more important than ever.

“The discussion paper is giving Queenslanders a chance to contribute to the development of a new policy, provide feedback on the types of technologies and help us plan for the future,” Ms Enoch said.

“The paper is an important action under the government’s new waste strategy.”

Ms Enoch said the government’s waste strategy outlined priorities and actions to help grow the recycling and resource recovery sector.

“We have set ambitious targets to recover 90 per cent of the waste we generate by 2050 and recycle at least 75 per cent of that waste,” Ms Enoch said.

“But we acknowledge that some wastes cannot be recycled, and it is better to retain the value of these wastes by recovering energy than it is to dispose of them to landfill. This is all part of our broader transition to a circular economy.”

Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) Executive Officer Rick Ralph said WRIQ and its members welcomed the new waste strategy.

“Energy from waste will play an important role in helping to achieve the objectives and targets of the strategy,” Mr Ralph said.

“The release of the Energy-from-Waste discussion paper is a step in the right direction. Industry looks forward to having this discussion with the government in this important initiative.”

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said energy from waste was a vital part of a sustainable waste and resource recovery system.

“Its technologies are also proven globally, with more than 2000 energy from waste facilities operating safely across the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, many having operated for decades,” Ms Sloan said.

“We look forward to working with the Queensland Government to leverage the technical expertise of our industry to develop a policy that promotes investment in, and growth of, an integrated waste management and resource recovery system that includes energy from waste.”

Public consultation is open until 26 August.

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Calls for Queensland EPA

An independent survey of 67 Waste and Recycling Industry Queensland members has recommended an inquiry into the performance of the Department of Environment and Science.

Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions (QEAS), an independent market research firm, was commissioned to electronically survey members of Waste and Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) on the performance of the waste industry regulator – the Department of Environment & Science (DES).

Responses throughout November and December 2018 were received from 67 members representing 70 per cent of the membership employing 4556 Queenslanders. The resulting QEAS Queensland Environmental Regulator Survey 2018 was produced.

The crucial repercussions of the document highlighted concerns towards the effectiveness of the Environmental Services and Regulation (ESR) Division and its ongoing relationship with the sector.

The WRIQ roadmap for ESR improvement highlights a need to improve consultation, education, set clear goals, targets and expectations and improve expertise and ESR resourcing. Other key recommendations are to offer consistent advice and improved response times and that ESR be independent of politics.

WRIQ members overwhelmingly believe Queensland’s DES and ESR responsibilities to be important. But 42 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed that the ESR was reviewing legislation and policy and compliance frameworks well. Almost 70 per cent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that ESR were taking a proportionate and consistent compliance and enforcement program and working collaboratively with government, industry and community groups.

Rick Ralph, WRIQ Chief Executive Officer, says that it’s unprecedented that 70 per cent of the industry with 45,000 employees were so universal in their scathing criticism of the regulator.

Rick says that there is a fundamental disconnect between regulators focused heavily on penalising operators.

“The regulator makes the rules and that’s their policy – it’s all about enforcement. They don’t offer any solutions. When something gets too hard, they are fundamentally ineffective in understanding the economic impacts of an unregulated environment,” Rick says.

In terms of where the regulator is performing well, select WRIQ members had positive feedback on their dealings with individual officers, but singled out the systematic flaws in the regulatory strategy.

Across the board, survey respondents rated the performance of ESR as poor to average, with an 85 per cent negative rating for problem solving, 86 per cent negative for stopping illegal dumping and 77 per cent criticising the decisions as being unsound, not evidence-based, and illogical.

The wide range of feedback segments covered consistency and confidence, drivers of actions, the Odour Busters program, resourcing and expertise, rogue operators and accountability and compliance versus education.

The Queensland Government’s Odour Busters taskforce was established to deal with nuisance odours in the Swanbank area.

The Odour Abatement Taskforce, also known as Odour Busters, was intended to operate from a local base at Redbank Plains to crack down on offensive odours and other environmental concerns in the area for 12 months in 2018.

One respondent asked why no findings had been published, with vague information on social media.

Rick says that industry and ESR need to actually commission a training program with industry so that officers understand what best practice looks like. Where complexities happen in regulation, there is a process of review to sort out the problem.

Criticism was also drawn at the ability of the regulator to conduct site audits and promote better compliance, and that inspections were part of a structured audit and compliance program rather than reactions to community sentiment.

One of the key recommendations of the report was a complete overhaul of the system for the government to act swiftly and produce an independent investigation into the current system. The goal would be to install an independent EPA, with four in five respondents indicating their support for such an agency.

According to Rick, an EPA should have an independent board.

“That authority then has clarity, purpose and a relationship with the industry and it actually works with the industry to find solutions, not just penalise,” Rick says.

“Universally where there’s been an EPA, it’s shown to be the model that actually works.”

He adds that the Victorian EPA’s modernisation showed how important it was to reinvigorate old structures with contemporary models, while stopping short of making recommendations on a Queensland structure and leaving it to an independent review.

WRIQ put a 10-point plan to the minister and is now waiting for a formal response from the director general. The 10-point plan is focused on building a commercial level playing field on how the industry is managed and non-adversarial. The plan includes that ESR establish an internal reference panel with an independent chair. It also advocates for a third-party review into ESR management and the independent review into environmental regulation.

“The environment minister has agreed to establish a working group and we have provided every Queensland minister with a copy of our report calling upon them to support the environment minister in overhauling the performance of the state’s regulator.

“Regrettably, not a single minister has acknowledged that correspondence and in terms of government engagement with its stakeholders, this lack of support is challenging for our members,” Rick says.

He says the review into ESR at DES should be conducted this year in order to prevent its politicisation in the 2020 election.

A DES spokesperson said it takes its role as Queensland’s environment regulator seriously and works closely with all industry stakeholders.

The spokesperson said that the department will take prompt enforcement action on industry members not compliant with their obligations.

“The Odour Abatement Taskforce is a twelve-month program, being undertaken to address odour and other environmental nuisance issues within the Swanbank Industrial Area.”

It said DES is undertaking a comprehensive education program to help improve compliance.

Queensland Government Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the DES recently underwent a restructure following machinery of government changes in 2018.

This has seen the creation of a new waste branch within the department specific to waste and resource recovery. She said the feedback from WRIQ will be considered by the department and help the government improve its stakeholder engagement.

This article was published in the May edition of Waste Management Review.

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Looking into a later levy

Waste Management Review examines some of the reasons why the Queensland Government’s waste levy was pushed back to 1 July 2019 and what it means for the industry going forward.

Read moreLooking into a later levy

Thought leadership in QLD: Future Waste Resources Forum 2018

In the largest convention of its kind, this year’s Future Waste Resources Forum updated the Queensland waste industry on the important next steps for resource recovery in 2019.

Read moreThought leadership in QLD: Future Waste Resources Forum 2018

QLD waste levy start date pushed back

The start date to the Queensland waste levy has been pushed back to 1 July 2019 and will have a higher price per tonne.

Originally scheduled to start on 4 March 2019, the waste levy will now start at $75 per tonne with the date of levy increments proposed to be moved to 1 July each year.

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Consultation about the waste levy was undertaken by the Queensland Government over several months, which found that stakeholders and local governments have asked for a later start date.

It has also committed 70 per cent of revenue raised through the levy will go towards councils, the waste industry, scheme start-up and environmental programs.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said delaying the start of the levy and changing the increment dates required the state government to adjust the waste levy rate to ensure it doesn’t fall behind other states.

“We are a consultative government and want to ensure the implementation of the waste levy is as smooth as possible for local councils, industry and for Queensland,” Ms Enoch said.

Ms Enoch also ensured Queenslanders would not have to pay more for their weekly council collections, as advanced payments would be provided to councils.

Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam said the state government has worked cooperatively with the association and is pleased to have reached a pragmatic outcome to ensure local governments are ready for the waste levy.

“A 1 July start date, even if that means a slightly higher rate, is exactly what we asked government for, and it’s good news for Queensland councils,” Mr Hallam said.

“The waste levy will help us advance toward a zero-waste future by 2035 and we thank the government for listening to our concerns about timing.”

Waste and Recycling Industry Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said he understood that more time for councils also means more time for industry to be ready and for the right regulatory structures to be put in place.

“The waste and recycling industry is getting on with the job of preparing for the waste levy and we’ll continue to work closely with the government to ensure the levy is implemented well,” Mr Ralph said.

The Queensland Government has also announced it will provide $6 million in extra funding to expand the Community Sustainability Action Grants Program to cover waste.

An additional $1 million will go towards a resource recovery Industries Roadmap and Action Plan and $6 million for a regional recycling transport assistance program.

QLD Environment Minister opens Future Waste Resources Convention

Queensland’s Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch officially opened the Future Waste Resources Convention in Ipswich, speaking to waste and recycling industry representatives from across the state.

The minister told businesses and local councils that the state government’s priority is to work with the community and industry to reduce landfill and encourage resource recovery.

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“I’m delighted to see that industry leaders are looking to the future, and preparing to make the most of the opportunities ahead,” Ms Enoch said.

“We are in a fortunate position to have internationally competitive businesses right here in Queensland, using cutting-edge technologies and processes for turning waste into valuable and profitable, products and services.

“We want to build on that competitive advantage,” she said.

The convention, located at Ipswich’s Workshops Rail Museum, focuses on realistic solutions to current challenges.

“Changing how we manage waste in Queensland will create jobs and drive significant economic growth as we make better use of resources and develop new industries,” Ms Enoch said.

Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said the convention has brought together more than 250 attendees from across the industry, and state and local government.

“This is the largest convention of its kind in Queensland history, focussing on future waste and recycling solutions for the state,” Mr Ralph said.

“It is wonderful the convention is being held at one the oldest manufacturing centres to show the possibilities for the future.”

Queensland opens $100M funding program for waste and recycling

A new $100 million program has been opened in Queensland that aims to improve the state’s recycling, resource recovery and biofutures industries.

The Resource Recovery Industry Development Program is designed to encourage removing waste from landfill, with the Queensland Government calling for interested parties to come forward with project proposals.

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Three streams are offered to capture projects across a variety of scales and levels of support.

Stream one is a rounds-based capital grants scheme with dollar-for dollar grants available up to $5 million to provide funding for infrastructure projects in new processing and technological capabilities.

The second stream is a broad incentives stream to attract or expand major resource recovery operations to divert waste from landfill.

A third stream will involve funding towards capital-intensive, long lifecycle projects which require support for investigations for final investment decisions.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the funding was made available over three years to develop a high value resource recovery and recycling industry.

“Our aim is to make Queensland a world leader in projects involving resource recovery, recycling and the re-manufacturing of materials to turn waste to energy,” Mr Dick said.

“Economically, we know such projects have the potential to generate new jobs for our communities and build confidence for business to invest in Queensland, and we know encouraging investment and innovation in the waste industry will also deliver long-term benefits environmentally.

“This program is another demonstration of the State Government supporting investment in Queensland through reducing waste going to landfill, and another leap forward in our journey towards a zero-waste future.”

Mr Dick said the projects will also create new products from waste, growing industry and reducing the impact on the environment.

“This funding will be available to support local governments and existing businesses and will attract new major projects to Queensland,” he said.

“Applications are also welcome from consortia: businesses or local governments working together on plans to deliver integrated projects.”

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said this program was part of the Queensland Government’s long-term vision to attract investment, develop new industries and grow jobs.

“We have a real opportunity to improve waste management practices in Queensland,” she said.

“Research indicates that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste that goes to landfill, less than three jobs are supported. But if that same waste was recycled, more than nine jobs would be supported.

“That is why our Government is moving towards a comprehensive waste management strategy, underpinned by a waste disposal levy. Last week we introduced legislation into Queensland Parliament and we are now one step closer to stopping interstate waste being dumped here in our state and encouraging more investment in industry,” Ms Enoch said.

Waste Recycling Industry Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said the funding announcement is critical to investment decisions proceeding.

“It now provides Queensland industry the opportunity to develop and create new jobs by driving economic growth that in turn will reshape the state as Australia’s leading secondary resources and recycling capital.”

Expressions of interest for stream one will remain open until 5 October, with funding through streams two and three available through application. The Queensland Government aims to have the first projects funded within the first half of 2019.

For more information, click here.

Queensland waste levy introduced into parliament

Queensland’s waste levy is one step closer as the legislation has been introduced into parliament.

It aims to stop trucks from New South Wales dumping waste in Queensland and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill while also encouraging more recycling jobs.

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A levy existed in Queensland until 2012, when it was removed, making it the only mainland state without a levy.

The new levy will begin on 4 March 2019 at a rate of $70 per tonne for general waste.

In the 2018-2019 state budget, the Queensland Government committed $32 million in advance payments to councils to ensure residents would not have to pay more for their waste.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Waste Levy) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 will allow the government to invest in waste management and recycling.

“We are providing advance payments to councils that covers 105% of the cost of their municipal waste,” Ms Enoch said.

“This means councils are being paid more than the cost of what they actually send to landfill every year.

“Councils will have no reason to increase rates because of the waste levy – we are giving them more than enough funding to cover this. In fact, councils could choose to use the extra funds to increase their waste management services,” she said.

Ms Enoch said that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste that go to landfill, less than three jobs are supported, compared with nine if that amount was recycled.

Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) Chief Executive Officer Gayle Sloan said that WMAA sees this as a great opportunity to grow and develop the resource recovery sector in Queensland, creating jobs and investment in the state.

“This will bring Queensland back in line with the majority of Australian states, and it is a step towards creating a level playing field across the country that industry so desperately needs,” Ms Sloan said.

Waste Recycling Industry Queensland Chief Executive Officer Rick Ralph said  industry and all levels of government have a critical role in delivering the objectives of Queensland’s new waste strategy.

“We are committed to realising council and the State Government’s future direction on waste, and to reshape Queensland to become Australia’s leading secondary resources and recycling state,” Mr Ralph said.

New abilities for Ipswich waste operators

New amendments to Queensland planning safeguards have been approved by the state government and will give waste operators across Ipswich the ability to reduce impacts on the community.

Buffer zones and other safeguards for residents living near new or expanded waste facilities in Swanbank and New Chum were implemented through a Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI) amendment from Queensland Planning Minister Cameron Dick.

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“These changes allow waste operators to bring forward new ideas, such as waste to energy solutions, to improve their existing operations and reduce impacts on the community and environment,” Mr Dick said.

The changes followed industry and council feedback on it current operation, with the expansion of the safeguards also including Ebenezer, Willowbank and Jeebropilly industrial areas.

“While these TLPIs regulate development applications for these areas, Council will use the two-year interim period to amend their planning scheme to address community concerns over the impact of waste facilities,” Mr Dick said.

“Development applications may be given favourable consideration by the Ipswich City Council where it can be clearly demonstrated, with a high degree of certainty, that improved amenity, environmental or community outcomes are able to be achieved.

“Both TLPIs complement actions already being undertaken by the Environment Minister with the newly formed Waste Management Stakeholder Advisory Group and Odour Abatement Taskforce,” he said.

A $100 million Resource Recovery Industry Development Program is due to be released later in 2018 to develop a high value resource recovery industry in Queensland.

Member for Jordan Charis Mullen said the government had consulted with the Ipswich City Council for their comments on both TLPIs.

“I am very pleased the TLPI’s are now in place and community concerns have been addressed while we use the next two years to work with the department to progress amendments to the planning scheme,” Ms Mullen said.

Waste Recycling Industry Association Chief Executive Officer Rick Ralph said industry and all levels of government have a critical role in addressing community concerns while maintaining the waste industry’s ongoing business aspirations.

“We are committed to realising council and the state government’s future direction on waste, and to reshape Queensland to become Australia’s leading secondary resources and recycling state,” Mr Ralph said.