Waste award winners lead the way

The 2023 Waste Innovation and Recycling Awards honoured experienced companies and newcomers to the industry, and provided organisations an opportunity to share ideas and celebrate the triumphs. Waste Management Review caught up with some of the winners.

Leader of the Year and Operational Excellence – Chris Wade, REMONDIS Wollongong

REMONDIS’s Chris Wade claimed the coveted Leader of the Year award, sponsored by COG Advertising. The win capped off a big night for REMONDIS, which also won the Operational Excellence Award for its Wollongong facility.

Accepting the awards, Chris thanked the industry for the recognition and paid tribute to the team he works with.

“What we do daily, it’s all about the community,” he said. “It’s a terrific business and I’ve got magnificent staff. Everyone there I value greatly.

“To me, being a leader is about doing everything I can for my staff and everyone who works for me. I’ve found if you can do as much as you can for your staff, they’ll do as much as they can for you and your business will thrive.”

Chris, the manager of REMONDIS Wollongong, has long thought that recognising and supporting the diverse interests of local employees pays dividends for individuals, the wider team and the community. Under his watch, the branch supports a diverse range of charitable and community groups and events.

One of 40 branches of REMONDIS Australia, one of the defining characteristics of REMONDIS Wollongong is employee longevity – 30 per cent of today’s team members have been with the business for more than 10 years. Additionally, 17 per cent of the workforce identifies as Indigenous.

REMONDIS Australia’s Sustainability Targets and Objectives for 2023 commit to working towards zero lost time injuries, reducing injury severity and operational impact, from a 2022 baseline, and reducing Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR), from the 2020 baseline. REMONDIS Wollongong currently has an LTIFR of 0.00 and, at 20 August 2023 was sitting at 6412 days LTI free.

2023 award winners
Outstanding WARR Project: Regional – Disaster Waste Management Project, Scenic Rim Regional Council.
OUTSTANDING WARR PROJECT: REGIONAL
Winner: Disaster Waste Management Project, Scenic Rim Regional Council

The Disaster Waste Management Project has delivered a Disaster Waste Management Plan and Waste Services Resilience Road Map, believed to be the first of its kind, that support Scenic Rim Regional Council to reduce the impact of natural disasters on the local community.

The Road Map identifies a range of options for council to increase the resilience of waste services to the impacts of disasters and provides a plan for future improvements.

2023 award winners
Outstanding WARR Project: Metro – Kerbside Waste Reform Project, Merri-bek City Council.
OUTSTANDING WARR PROJECT: METRO

Kerbside Waste Reform (KWR) Project, Merri-bek City Council.

Merri-bek’s KWR Project team planned for and delivered the new four-bin kerbside collection service over a 12-month period. This standardised service is now aligned with Victorian Government requirements.

The project aimed to maximise resource recovery through the provision of new bin infrastructure, delivered alongside a tailored communication and education program. The project has procured 135,000 bins with a strict key performance indicator of using 40 per cent, or higher, recycled content.

Merri-bek prides itself on a mantra of ‘one team, brave and diverse making a difference’. A spokesperson said the KWR Project team was proud to have won the Outstanding WARR Project: Metro award, not just because it’s a great honour to have their achievements recognised, but because the project has truly embraced the ‘one team’ ethos at every stage.

The spokesperson put the team’s success down to thoroughly demonstrating how the project deliverables aligned with specific sustainability targets within Merri-bek and as a result of State Government reforms.

“The Project Team took on an ambitious schedule of works and delivered the new four-bin system on time and on budget – with a strong emphasis on raising awareness, communication, education, continuous improvement and on-going support for Merri-bek residents,” the spokesperson said.

“The Project Team successfully restructured the kerbside collection frequency to align with industry standards and to provide the most effective solution for ratepayers in the two key areas of cost and resource recovery.”

OUTSTANDING FACILITY AWARD (proudly sponsored by CDE Group)
2023 award winners
Outstanding Facility Award – ReSource.

ReSource. Innovative Recycling Solutions, ReSource Pty Ltd

ReSource processes all types of e-waste and in many instances, diverts up to 90 per cent of raw materials for reuse. ReSource’s facilities are large enough to handle up to 30 per cent of Victoria’s total e-waste, including low-value materials typically sent straight to landfills.

ReSource has introduced new AI-driven battery sorting, recycling of alkaline and zinc carbon batteries and high-efficiency recycling for low-value items. It’s the first company in Australia to implement dual stage activated carbon filters to ensure there aren’t heavy metal or volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from its processing entering the atmosphere.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT SUCCESS OF THE YEAR (Proudly sponsored by Visy)

FOGO success with an engaged community, Maroondah City Council

Community Engagement Success of the Year – FOGO success with an engaged community, Maroondah City Council.

Maroondah City Council adopted its new Waste, Litter and Resource Recovery Strategy in May 2020, which identified a new Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) service as a priority for reducing waste to landfill.

Maroondah Chief Executive Officer Steve Kozlowski said it’s one of the biggest opportunities the city has to reduce carbon emissions, support sustainable food production and achieve a strategic aim of halving waste to landfill by 2030.

A strategically phased communications and engagement approach, underpinned by behavioural science principles, was undertaken to roll out the new FOGO service.

Steve said the campaign was based on an understanding of the community’s current capabilities (such as perceived and actual barriers) to separate their food waste; understanding what opportunities existed to increase participation by ensuring the right tools were provided; understanding what values might need to be appealed to for each key demographic; and what best motivated them for the change.

Before introducing the new service, a communications campaign was developed to change bin lid colours, to bring Maroondah in line with the Victorian Government’s bin lid standards. This campaign resulted in 95 per cent of the old garden organics bin lids being changed over to the new standard of lime green. One of the highest participation rates in a bin lid swap in Australia, according to Steve.

The next stage of the campaign was the roll out of FOGO kits, which resulted in 99.7 per cent of households successfully receiving their kit.

The new FOGO service is now being used correctly, with contamination reducing from 0.5 per cent to 0.23 per cent, which is uncommon when rolling out a new service.

“We’re super proud of this award. It’s our first waste sector award and we couldn’t be more excited and grateful to everyone who was involved, including our community,” Steve said.

“Our team will go forward into our next round of service changes knowing that we’re applying best practice principles to our projects and are setting the standard for communications and community engagement.”

YOUNG PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR (Proudly sponsored by REMONDIS)

Shiloh Ainuu, BINGO Industries

Young Professional of the Year – Shiloh Ainuu.

For Shiloh Ainuu, Operational Excellence Manager at BINGO, part of the excitement of winning the Young Professional of the Year award has been seeing colleagues, particularly women and the younger generation, be passionate about the waste industry.

“Seeing them excited about coming to work to make a difference, excited about transforming waste into reusable materials and excited about how we are doing this; that’s what winning looks like to me,” Shiloh said.

“And of course, seeing people around me push beyond their limitations, both personally and professionally, and break stereotypes. We’ve got more women in our trucks, front end loaders, excavators, and operating recycling centres, and our young people are embracing opportunities to lead.”

Shiloh is managing a team of more than 30 women at BINGO and has been a voice for women within the waste industry and BINGO for the past seven years.

“I like to think I’ve been able to add value to the waste industry,” she says. “I believe my colleagues have recognised my passion and dedication when leading initiatives that improve how we operate and deliver results.

“The way I lead means others are brought on that journey with me. I don’t let age become a limitation but an opportunity to embrace the new, and learn from the wise.”

INNOVATION AWARD (Proudly sponsored by VEOLIA)

Entyr ELT Thermal Conversion Process, Entyr Limited

Innovation Award – Entyr ELT Thermal Conversion Process.
Innovation Award – Entyr ELT Thermal Conversion Process.

For Entyr Chief Executive Officer David Wheeley, and the team, winning the Innovation Award is recognition of a lot of hard work.

“It has been a long journey to date, and we are very excited about our future,” David said. “This type of recognition is important when you are a pioneer with what you are doing.

“The scalable nature of the Entyr process will have a positive demonstrable impact on end-of-life tyre recycling not only in Australia, but globally. I believe that our products create a genuine circular economy opportunity.”

Entyr has developed a low-emissions thermal baking conversion process – rather than the burning of toxic waste – that is controlled within an atmospherically sealed vessel for no chemical intervention.

Repurposing almost 100 per cent of an end-of-life tyre (ELT), the processing transforms ELTs into commercially valuable products of recovered carbon black, tyre-derived fuel oil, steel and gas, replacing the need for virgin resources in manufacturing. It’s been primarily tested and used in asphalt mixes.

An RPS Group study determined that the Entyr thermal process is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 23 kilograms per tonne of asphalt (a 24 per cent reduction in the embodied emissions of the asphalt produced), or 61,777 tonnes of co2-e per year, based on processing only 25 per cent of Australia’s annual ELT problem.

WOMAN OF WASTE (Proudly sponsored by Re.Group)

Jelena Hercegovac, Repurpose It

Woman of Waste – Jelena Hercegovac.

Protecting the environment and giving back to the natural ecosystems and communities is something that’s close to Jelena Hercegovac’s heart and has been at the core of her career path.

“This vision has always inspired me to actively engage with various industry associations and be part of these important conversations that foster better environmental outcomes,” Jelena said.

“Our collective efforts are required to help Australia become leaders in the global race of waste reduction and  hopefully this award is recognition of my commitment in advocating for our broader industry and supporting our circular economy journey.”

Repurpose It is an industry leader in making quality repurposed materials that are compliant with regulations and standards. It recovers resources and turns them into a wide range of construction and landscaping products, including sand, soils, aggregates, barks, mulches, and crushed concrete.

Jelena supports the Repurpose It business in all facets of environmental compliance, risk management and sustainability best practice in her role a General Manager of Environment and Sustainability.

“It is truly such an honour and a privilege to be recognised with this award alongside the incredible calibre of the inspiring women finalists whose dedication and leadership contributes so much to our industry,” Jelena said.

“Mentoring young professionals in our industry and encouraging and empowering more women to join the STEMM sector is something I’ve always been passionate about and is a career legacy I aspire to. That is what makes this award meaningful and special to me.”

WIAR WORKPLACE OF THE YEAR (Proudly sponsored by BINGO Industries)

SMEC Australia, Pty Ltd

WIAR Workplace of the Year – SMEC Australia

SMEC provides technical expertise and advanced engineering services to resolve complex challenges within roads, highways, rail, metro, airports, ports, urban, water, hydropower, and renewable energy markets.

A spokesperson for SMEC said the company had worked hard to build and maintain a great workplace culture, so to win the Workplace of the Year award was great recognition of the entire teams’ work.

“SMEC has focused on providing support and opportunities that benefit everyone in our organisation and the community as a whole,” the spokesperson said. “We listen to our people to understand what can be improved within our workplaces and work on implementing those changes, which in turn creates a workplace where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

SMALL CONSULTANCY OF THE YEAR

Oleology

LARGE CONSULTANCY OF THE YEAR

KPMG

Nominations are open for the 2024 Waste Innovation and Recycling Awards (WIAR).

Sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2024 WIAR awards.

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