VWMA call for VIC Gov to build resilient waste system

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has called on the state government to develop an industry led initiative that tackles challenges facing the Victorian waste and recycling system.

The organisation’s position is to set up a VWMA initiative to make sure the Victorian waste and recycling is working in the same direction.

The VWMA said in a statement that the waste sector is facing higher insurance costs, recent import and trade restrictions, urban planning, increased regulations and a negative public perception of the industry.

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It also mentioned China’s National Sword policy and how the restrictions have impacted the entire sector as a whole.

More than 11 million tonnes of waste are generated in Victoria a year, and the waste industry generates over $2.2 billion in revenue for the economy.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said there is an opportunity to establish Victoria as Australia’s most resilient state with regard to waste and recycling management.

“The private sector owns and operates the bulk of waste and resource recovery infrastructure and services in Victoria and should be front and centre in proposing solutions,” Mr Smith said.

“The Victorian Government has had a closed door/invite only approach with regard to formulating responses to the current recycling issues. We’d like to make things more transparent.”

VWMA and EPA VIC host Industry Breakfast

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) and Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria is hosting an Industry Breakfast.

The breakfast is open to all VWMA members and non-members and will include speakers from the RSM group and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Director of Economics, Governance and Waste Ian Campbell-Fraser. EPA Victoria Chief Executive Officer Nial Finegan will also be presenting.

Topics that will be covered during the breakfast include risk appetite, a government update on the $13M National Sword package, recycling taskforce and e-waste, and how the EPA can help guide those in the industry.

It will provide an opportunity to meet others in the waste sector, engage with government, and discuss some of the important issues affecting the sector.

A hot plated breakfast is included, along with networking opportunities and presentations.

The VWMA & EPA INDUSTRY BREAKFAST takes place on Thursday 26 April, from 7:30am to 9am at the RACV Club Bayside Room 5 and 501 Bourke St, Melbourne.

To register, visit the website here.

EPA/The Department of Land, Water and Planning will be hosting an event at the same venue and location following the breakfast:

EPA Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials Guidelines Workshop:

The Department of Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is leading the development of the permanent legislative instrument to manage combustible wastes in Victoria. Concurrently, EPA Victoria are conducting a review of the Management and Storage of Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials – Guideline, Publication 1667.1. EPA and DELWP are consulting with industry, government and community April-June 2018.

EPA Victoria would like to hear from those involved storing, transporting or processing combustible recyclable and waste materials such as at a resource recovery, materials recycling or reprocessing facility.

You can participate in the EPA Workshop on 26 April to discuss the management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials. You will need to register separately for EPA’s via eventbrite: https://combustiblerecycling.eventbrite.com.au


VWMA calls for bin auditing standards

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) will be calling on state government agencies and appropriate local government organisations to develop a consistent set of standards for bin auditing.

It hopes the standards will also engage with the community and waste industry.

The VWMA notes what can ultimately be recycled is largely dependent on how we decide to generate and dispose of waste. It notes bin audits are a standard practice that enable efficient assessment of kerbside recycling progress.

The VWMA believes the Victorian Government needs to play a greater role in advocating to the public the importance of the waste and recycling sector to help restore public confidence in the system.

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Local governments across Australia carry out auditing of bins as a standard practice to better understand what is being recycled and what is contaminating recycling bins. Auditing is sometimes managed by local government directly, outsourced to a waste contractor or carried out by a third party. The VWMA believes this standard practice provides insights into the areas for waste education and highlights common misconceptions around recycling that can be targeted by future programs and campaigns. However, the organisation argues a lack of community understanding on this practice and waste management more broadly is fuelling a wave of negativity that is eroding public confidence.

“Recycling correctly is still one of the easiest things Victorians can do to help the environment and the economy. But we don’t always get it right,” said VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith, adding that bin audits are an easy and cost-effective way to gauge recycling outcomes.

“Fear mongering and fuelling the fire around this topic is not constructive and does a disservice to the community and may ultimately drive costs up for residents.”

VWMA calls for increased resource recovery investment

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has called for a suite of measures to solve the nation’s recycling crisis, including increased state government investment and reviews of contractual models for waste and resource recovery.

It comes after China’s recent clamp down on the export of recyclable materials of a contamination level of more than 0.5 per cent. The decision covers 24 categories of solid waste, and covers countries such as Japan, USA, Australia and others. China was Australia’s largest market for the export of recyclable materials, but has tightened its restrictions.

National Sword, an extension of China’s Green Fence Policy, will see inspections on recyclable materials such as paper and various grades of post-consumer plastics being imported into China.

In the same week, the Victorian Government announced a $13 million package to go towards helping councils and industries that have been affected by the China policy. The Victorian Government has also moved to establish a recycling industry taskforce to develop a plan for industry transition, a decision welcomed by the VWMA.

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VWMA believes the problem that exists with materials that recycling exporters send to China (and materials that maybe caught up in the inspection program) is that streams can be highly contaminated due to poor recycling practices and sorting, which can originate back to the household (or point of generation).

“The VWMA does not comment specifically on commercial contracts in place between organisations, however the current situation can be attributed to a range of factors that contracting parties have knowingly entered into – this includes fixed priced collection in a commodity sensitive environment and dependencies on export markets,” the organisation said in a statement.

“The VWMA does not support compensation or bailouts as an appropriate response to the current situation. We are focused on medium and long term sustainable solutions for our members and Victorians, and are engaged with the Victorian Government and other related organisations and associations as required to advocate for these medium and longer terms solutions.”

The VWMA Executive met on February 20 to discuss National Sword and its impacts to Victoria, noting that a range of factors created the current recycling issue in the state, including:

  • The export of recyclable material and global (fluctuating) commodity markets.
  • Contractual models that favour one party over another and do not distribute risk.
  • Public awareness and appropriate waste and recycling disposal practice by households.
  • Public confidence in the waste and recycling system.
  • The essentialness of maintaining waste and recycling services for Victorians.

The VWMA acknowledges that China’s decision means a global market reset is being experienced and no one knows what this reset will mean or how long ambiguity around recycling markets may exist.

The VWMA advocates a collaborative approach between industry and government on this matter with the following areas to be prioritised by state and local government:

  • Contractual models for waste and resource recovery contracts: Review the contractual models for waste and resource recovery contracts which may include splitting contracts, linking contracts to an indexed commodity price and a greater distribution of risk between all parties.
  • Unlocking the state government’s Sustainability Fund: Increased state government investment (via low-interest loans and grants) to the private sector and local government (which could include public-private partnerships for larger investments) targeted at all aspects of Victoria’s waste and resource recovery system. These would include waste collection/transports, processing facilities and other infrastructure. The intent of this investment would be to create self-sustainable outcomes (in-line with the Sustainability Fund’s objectives) through value-added product created in Victoria from the materials we all throw out. This investment would also stimulate jobs in construction and manufacturing. The Sustainability Fund receives money from Victorian landfill levies.
  • Stimulate local markets: Where appropriate all levels of government, including federal, should seek to stimulate markets for recovery through minimum requirements in procurement contracts. This would drive local demand for value added product and support broader government initiative around the concepts of circular economy. Options should also consider waste to energy as a viable option for Victoria.
  • Community are engaged and brought along to understand the essential nature of the service that is provided to them: The state’s waste and resource recovery system exists to support Victorians and all Victorians have a civil responsibility to engage in appropriate waste disposal practices (this includes things such as recycling correctly, not throwing dangerous goods into the bin and littering). The Victorian Government should begin to have this conversation with the community and involve industry.

“Victoria’s success in kerbside collection can in large part be attributed to the collaboration between government and industry. The VWMA supports continued engagement with all levels of Industry on this matter,” said VWMA Executive Officer, Mark Smith.

“The Victorian waste and resource recovery system exists to support a prosperous and healthy Victoria. We all generate waste and this waste needs to be managed. Community need to be brought in on the conversation so they understand their role in generating waste and disposing of that waste correctly.”