AORA’s new Executive Officer Peter Olah speaks with Waste Management Review about the association’s plans to support and strengthen the Australian organics industry.
The organics industry is in interesting times. While awareness over the importance of sustainable organics management has never been higher, compliance costs, regulatory changes and disrupted end markets are causing problems for small and medium enterprises.
How to effectively manage and process food waste is gaining traction though, with Infrastructure Victoria’s Recycling and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Evidence Base Report suggesting consistent approaches to FOGO are critical to achieving greater overall resource recovery rates.
Though this is likely welcome news to the Victorian arm of the organics sector, across the border in NSW, the situation is murkier.
In October, the NSW EPA reaffirmed its 2018 Mixed Waste Organics Output decision, stating the authority had no intention of amending its revocation of the material’s resource recovery exemption order.
For Peter Olah, the Australian Organics Recycling Association’s (AORA) new Executive Officer, the organics industry’s current challenges present an opportunity for growth.
“While I’m entering my new role at AORA in a challenging time for not just the organics industry, but the recycling industry at large, I’m excited to face those challenges head on and support the organics industry as it advances,” Peter says.
Peter, who currently serves as the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute’s Chief Executive Officer, has an extensive background in politics and public administration.
He previously worked on the private staff of a NSW Premier, and served as a Policy Advisor to Ministers for Justice and Police.
Furthermore, Peter served as a Hurstville City Council Councillor in Sydney for 12 years, including three terms as Hurstville Mayor and three as Deputy Mayor.
“I also worked with NSW State Transit for seven years, fulfilling a number of management functions for the organisation’s board and CEO, including projects in government and customer relations, public affairs, industrial advocacy, internal communications and cost efficiency,” he says.
Drawing on this leadership experience, Peter intends to help AORA deliver the objectives laid out in its 2019-2022 National Strategy.
“The strategy’s mission statement is to work with stakeholders to facilitate the conditions through which surplus organic material can be sustainably and cost-effectively recycled.” Peter says.
“Furthermore, we intent to promote the beneficial use of compost and mulches in primary industries.”
In addition to the overall mission, Peter says AORA have three key objectives, including strengthening AORA as the peak body for the organics recycling industry and championing a pathway to optimise closed loop organics recycling.
Additionally, he says, AORA intends to establish and participate in knowledge hubs for recycled organics research, development, extension and communication.
“I will use my experience in stakeholder management and knowledge of political processes to ensure our member’s voices are heard and continue the advocacy and industry support role of AORA,” he says.
“As the central body for organics in Australia, I also intend to ensure the sustainable growth of the association.”
To achieve this, Peter says he will take time to speak with members about their concerns and ensure those concerns are further discussed with the AORA board.
One of AORA’s next steps, he says, is collaborating with members to establish standards and best practice certifications programs.
“AORA’s members are leaders in the organics space, and drawing on their expertise, I hope to use my position to identify, communicate and celebrate best practice strategies, technologies, performance and products,” he says.
“By working together, AORA can help create an environment where the work of individuals and organisations in the organics industry leads the way to a more sustainable Australian future.”