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Maintaining the momentum

organics recycling

Peter Olah, National Executive Officer of Australian Organics Recycling Association, looks ahead to what he says will be one of the industry’s most important years.

As we come to the end of a most interesting year, it is instructive to take a look back and important to look forward.

The year 2021 has been economically and socially challenging for many Australians. Even more so than 2020, lockdown fatigue has worn down many of our friends and led to the destruction of many previously viable businesses. 

Few industries have found themselves exempt from these painful realities, but many would agree that the Australian organics recycling industry is among them. Our industry’s resilience is one reason for this, but so too are good luck and good timing. Lockdown has seen an increase in home cooking and gardening, leading to an increase in organics collections at kerbside. At the same time, demand for product has increased for several reasons, including government spending on major projects to boost the economy. Our industry has reaped the benefits and many organics recycling facilities are operating at record levels.

For AORA as an industry association, the conditions have remained challenging. Our most obvious offerings – member events – have been curtailed through lockdowns and other restrictions. Despite this, in June we delivered the largest and most successful national conference our industry has ever seen. We have also rolled out a more comprehensive program of member webinars. We intend to build on both these strengths over the coming year, even as we return to delivering a strong program of face-to-face events.

Most importantly, we have worked hard to influence governments at all levels to change the rules of the game in favour of our industry. And the results are starting to show.

Major policy and budgetary announcements have come from the Federal Government and several states, and we are starting to see a strategic alignment between the long-term goals of the three tiers of government and our industry in many places. It’s not consistent and not always as strong as we’d like, but the direction is right and the momentum is real. Most importantly, the organics recycling industry – through AORA – has been at the core of kick-starting this momentum, and we will work even harder to maximise the benefits and opportunities in 2022.

We will do so not just by working with governments, but by innovation and collaboration at many levels. In 2022, AORA members will see us deliver the widest-ranging and important series of projects in our industry’s history. We will roll out a national product certification system after a detailed program of collaboration with farmers and their representatives. 

We will deliver an industry-led carbon credit scheme delivering funds to AORA members firstly for their diversion of organics from landfill, and then for other carbon saving measures.

We will launch the second edition of our industry contribution study, which in two years has become the go-to dataset for planners in the industry and government nationally. We will deliver an international collaboration which will plug our members into a global network of industry knowledge-sharing and resources such as the industry has never seen.

We will introduce changes to make AORA membership more relevant and flexible than ever. And we will keep driving governments to ensure the best possible ecosystem for the growth of our industry.

The next 10 years will deliver the greatest change and growth our industry has experienced, with boundless opportunities on offer. It starts in 2022 and I look forward to sharing the exciting journey with AORA members everywhere. On behalf of all of us at AORA, I wish you, your families and work teams a joyous Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful 2022. 

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