NWRIC State Associations update: December

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) State Affiliates provide a detailed overview of industry and policy changes across the country. 

NWRIC is the national industry body for commercial waste and recycling operators Australia wide.

It brings together national businesses and affiliated state associations to develop and promote policies and actions to advance waste management and resource recovery in Australia – ensuring a fair, safe and sustainable industry that serves all Australians.

NWRIC state affiliates include the Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ), the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW & ACT (WCRA), the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA), the Waste Recycling Industry of South Australia (WRISA), the Waste Recycling Industry of Western Australia (WRIWA) and the Waste Recycling Industry Northern Territory (WRINT).


Looking ahead – 20 Year Waste Strategy – what members want

On a number of occasions and again at AWRE 2020 REIMAGINED ONLINE, we have heard NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean state that the NSW 20-year waste strategy will be based on sustainable, reliable and affordable principles.

What are some of the key things that our members want?

Industry wants certainty, and a sustainable, reliable and affordable waste and recycling sector will require the NSW Government to overhaul our current system of Resource Recovery Orders and Exemptions.

We want a sustainable, reliable and affordable C&D recycling sector and that will require the NSW Government to address the long outstanding need for a guideline to be produced for the utilisation of regulators and industry that agrees the process for handling an unexpected find of bonded asbestos in recycled C&D materials.

Investors in proposed WtE facilities want the certainty of knowing that the NSW waste and environment levy will not apply to the waste inputs at a WtE facility.

The MWOO decision has resulted in the displacement of an estimated 500,000 tonnes of municipal waste from AWTs across the state. Industry and local government need the NSW Government’s financial assistance so that a sustainable, reliable and affordable solution can be locked in.

The NSW Government has stated they want to utilise more NSW made steel in local NSW infrastructure projects. These solutions were communicated to the NSW Government by the scrap metal sector in August 2020. We have now waited three months and not even received a courtesy letter acknowledging our submissions.

We need state governments to close the loop on the arbitrage opportunities presented by the NSW waste levy, whereby in some cases it is simply more cost effective to transport the waste over long distances for disposal at interstate landfills.

In the Minister’s AWRE address he stated that if we don’t act now, there is a high probability NSW’s waste systems will not cope with our waste and recycling volumes in 10 to 15 years’ time.

I’m sure I speak for the many of us who work in the waste and recycling sector, when I say that it was disappointing to see the recent NSW 2020 budget announcement.

NSW continues to be heavily reliant on waste levy revenue with $750 million projected to be collected in the year to June 2021. And in the year to June 2024, waste levy collections have been projected by Treasury to be $832 million.

It is very easy to conclude that NSW is addicted to the revenue from the waste levy.

In our view a sustainable, reliable and affordable waste and recycling sector will require the NSW Government to commit to re-investing a much greater percentage of waste levy funds to assist industry and local government.

And on that note, we look forward to 2021 and next years’ NSW State Budget, when it is our hope that funding will be made available for a well-thought out NSW 20-year waste strategy, so that we can all achieve the sustainable, reliable and affordable outcomes that the Minister aspires to.


Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) In WA

The West Australian Government has committed to a state-wide roll-out of FOGO across all councils and has established a FOGO Reference Group. The Reference Group has members from across state government, local government and industry, with WRIWA representing the waste and recycling industry.

This state-wide approach has already had significant outcomes, with an agreement for a single list of what can and cannot be placed in the FOGO bin across the entire state. This will be the first state-wide FOGO system in Australia.

The FOGO roll-out has not been slowed by COVID-19 restrictions, with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) rapidly moving the consultation process online.

Online workshops have attracted an average of 90 – 100 attendees, with stakeholders from the furthest reaches of the state, who might normally not have attended in person, taking the opportunity to be involved via the online forums.

Josh Byrne who is a member of the WA Waste Authority set out the state’s approach to FOGO at the opening session: FOGO is about material recovery rather than landfill diversion.

Following extensive industry consultation WRIWA is focussed on:

Provision in contracts where contamination exceeds an agreed level, local government areas to meet the additional costs

 A guaranteed $ spend per household per annum on recycling education, in every local government area

Councils providing compostable plastic caddy liners (at cost or better)

Support for the marketing of processed FOGO

Back to back contracts with councils buying back product

A mechanism whereby Industry is not being asked to bear the financial risk of low volumes

Adequate start up time

Location of FOGO transfer stations and FOGO processing facilities require very specific conditions, councils need to be aware of this when going to tender. Industry needs a clear process with DWER involvement to resolve issues. 

In mid-September DWER held an online consultation forum on FOGO in multi unit developments (MUDS).

WRIWA was fortunate to have Mike Ritchie from MRA Consulting put the industry position, based on his extensive experience of FOGO in MUDS in NSW.

The forum attracted the largest participation of any of the sessions, with over 200 participants from industry and local councils from throughout the state.

The MRA Consulting presentation focussed on four common misconceptions that are commonly held to be issues with FOGO in MUDS:

MUDs don’t generate much garden organics

The FOGO will be heavily contaminated

Nowhere to store FOGO bin

There are no markets

While acknowledging that these can be issues, Mike Ritchie detailed a series of mitigation strategies that provide effective solutions including:

Targeted education / behaviour change

Composters manage inputs to remove contamination including MUD processing line if required at composter

Price – Contamination schedule for councils necessitating increased gate fees for contamination

WRIWA President Mike Harper commented, “WRIWA strongly supports FOGO, it’s an obvious step to reducing waste to landfill.

“FOGO also represents a business opportunity for our members, we are hearing that diversion rates of better than 60 per cent are being achieved already.

“We are very focussed on establishing a fair risk sharing strategy with our local government colleagues and making sure contamination is kept to a minimum.

“MRA Consulting is well respected in WA having carried out significant work for local government, and recognised as providing impartial advice. Mike Ritchie’s presentation was very to the point about getting the risk strategy right and was very well received.”

Collaborative Submission Wins WA State Recycling (Infinity) Award

A collaborative submission by WRIWA, Cleanaway WA, Southern Metropolitan Regional Council, SUEZ WA and the WA Local Government Association has won the 2020 Waste Management Award.

The award recognised the State-wide guidelines for kerbside recycling developed by the organisations listed above. The guidelines demonstrate a collaborative approach to address the need to reduce contamination in kerbside recycling bins.

A commonly agreed A-Z guide has been developed, to reduce confusion and guide householders in correctly disposing of their waste materials into the correct kerbside bin. Nearly all local governments with kerbside recycling have adopted the guidelines.

“The state wide guidelines for Kerbside Recycling is one of WRIWA’s proudest achievements and we were very pleased to see our submission win the award,” Harper said.

“We can say without doubt that we have the best run kerbside waste collection system in the country.

“Whether you live in Esperance or Port Hedland, you will be putting the same items in your kerbside bin.

“It shows what can happen when industry and government really work together, everyone benefits and we get a better and simpler system that drives down contamination and is much more user friendly”.

This article is the seventh in an ongoing monthly series. 

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