Meet Alison Price, the new Chief Executive Officer of the Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland (WRIQ).
My first reaction to being asked to throw my hat in the ring for the Chief Executive Officer role for Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland was that the industry is too broken and has too many challenges to even know where to begin to fix it.
But, after some ‘gentle convincing’ by some of the industry giants I’ve been privileged to call my mentors since I first joined as a member in 2014, I’m excited to lead the charge towards a more sustainable future for Queensland’s waste and recycling businesses.
Small business owner
For the past 14 years, I’ve run my own small waste and recycling business, experiencing all the highs and lows of many of our members.
I have dealt with multiple regulatory environments and those that haven’t yet caught up with technological innovations. I’ve managed clients who are more focused on getting rid of their waste ‘problem’ than creating a true circular economy solution.
I’ve had source separation challenges that make recycling far more difficult than it needs to be.
Finally, I’ve dealt with all the repercussions of changeable end markets that need a lot of convincing (preferably in the form of a cheaper price) to opt for what they view as a potentially inferior recycled solution.
In the early days of my business, I did everything from operating machinery to supervising multiple sites, so I’m no stranger to hi-vis and a pair of dirty steel caps.
I’ve also had the privilege of sitting around the WRIQ boardroom table, learning the industry from the state and national leaders of large corporate members since I became a board member in 2015 – I was the organisation’s first female board member.
Back then I used to research football so I’d have something to talk about and had to work up the courage to ask my fellow board members to push their meetings back to 9am to allow me time to drop my stepkids at school.
This gives me a unique perspective on our very diverse industry.
I’m currently enjoying spending time visiting the sites of our members to fill in the gaps in my niche industry knowledge.
As President of the Queensland Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction, I previously sat on the Ministerial Construction Council and hope to see a similar, high-level Ministerial Waste Recycling Council discussion group established for the waste and recycling industry.
I built my small business on relationships and doing things differently. I’ve run joint ventures and partnerships, and I’ve also held board roles with a number of other industry associations including Austmine and the Infrastructure Sustainability Council.
Attending the 2023 Australian Waste Recycling Expo (AWRE) in Sydney, I was reassured that we have incredibly bright people and plenty of great ideas in the sector. I’m unlikely to be the person who comes up with the solutions but I’m keen to be part of tying the industry together with one unified advocacy voice on some key topics.
We’ll never agree on everything, but I am seeing some opportunities for better collaboration and innovation.
I loved catching up in person with my equivalents representing the waste and recycling industry in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. It’s clear there is appetite for a major step change of the industry.
For now, my focus is on WRIQ’s members and finding the common threads that are important to them. A road trip north throughout August was an opportunity to visit some regional members.
I also aim to update WRIQ’s strategy later this year and prepare for the Queensland election to be held in October 2024.
Thanks to the excellent work done by my predecessor Dr Georgina Davis, WRIQ has very positive relationships with state and local government and some great opportunities to make a real difference.
Maybe we’ll even manage to collaborate to resolve some of our longest-running industry challenges?
Watch this space.