Foundational documents: AORA

Foundational documents: AORA

The AORA Board sees COVID-19 as an opportunity to collaborate and reposition, writes National Executive officer Peter Olah.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend the SA Waste & Resource Recovery Conference in Adelaide. It was my first intestate trip in seven months, and my first large gathering of industry friends and colleagues in just as long. It was fantastic!

What I enjoyed most was the positivity of the event and the attendees. We know that it’s been a hard year, we’ve all lived through it, but the overarching feeling was upbeat.

That’s one of the real joys of our industry. We acknowledge challenges and failures, but we get on with it.

My presentation to the conference was entitled 2030 Vision: Australia’s World Leading Organics Recycling Industry of 2030 and How to Get There, which is also the title of AORA’s upcoming National Industry Policy Document.

The AORA Board saw COVID-19 as an opportunity: it gave us the time and capacity to reposition AORA and the industry for a future with greater national collaboration and significant growth.

That’s why we’ve worked so hard to produce four foundational documents during the lockdown period:

1. New AORA Strategic Plan 2020-23 (commenced 1 July 2020)

2. Industry Contribution Study (launched March 2020)

3. Industry Capacity Study (launching November 2020)

4. National Industry Policy Document (launching late 2020 / early 2021).

Our first industry study, The Economic Contribution of the Australian Organics Recycling Industry, was launched in March. The report mapped the current economic and environmental contributions of our industry.

In addition, the report also modelled the “what if” scenarios for the industry’s contribution at national organics recycling rates of 70, 80, 90 and 95 per cent (as compared to our current national rate of 51.5 per cent). Needless to say, the potential benefits are huge.

But that still left the question: how ready is our industry to expand to these higher organics recycling rates?

The industry’s capacity to increase production is a key component of our national capacity to increase organics recycling rates – and to achieve the benefits this brings.

That’s why AORA committed to delivering a second industry study, in conjunction with the Federal and South Australian Governments: The Productive Capacity of the Australian Organics Recycling Industry.

The study will launch a few weeks from now, and the data provided through our recent national industry survey forms an integral part of it.

AORA will be running member and government webinars to brief the industry on the study, but in the meantime, I am pleased to give a sneak preview of some key results:

– Industry satisfaction with its performance is strong, with three in four businesses indicating they are somewhat, mostly, or very satisfied with their overall performance.

– The three strongest areas are industry leadership, business stability and high productivity.

– The three areas needing most improvement are profitability, the costs of production and the opportunities for growth.

– The four largest obstacles to the growth of the industry are regulatory policy uncertainty, contamination of input material, government policy (such as waste and recycling strategies), and business licensing / operating permits.

– Operational issues such as access to technology, labour costs, and logistics are, at most, minor obstacles to growth.

The report will provide an independent and robust assessment of the industry’s ability to step up as an economic, employment and environmental provider of benefit.

It will also provide a direct link to our final (and arguably most important) piece of work: AORA’s National Industry Policy Document, which we will also launch in coming months.

Together, these three works will answer the question: how do we get to 80 per cent recycling of organics by 2025 and 95 per cent by 2030?

I look forward to telling you more in future issues of Waste Management Review.

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