WRIQ encourages participants to take part in regulator survey

Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) – Queensland’s peak body representing businesses that deliver waste and resource recovery services to Queensland – is calling on anyone working in the industry to take part in its biennial regulator survey.

According to Mark Smith, WRIQ CEO, the Queensland waste and resource recovery sector provides world class infrastructure and services in the areas of waste, processing, recycling and disposal.

“It’s important that businesses working in our sector provide feedback to improve how the sector is regulated, especially coming into a state election in October and a period of economic stimulus, from what I expect to be all levels of government in Australia,” Smith said.

Recent data sets from the Queensland Government show Queensland generates 10.9 million tonnes of waste across households, commercial, industrial, construction, hazardous and liquid materials each year.

The Queensland waste and resource recovery employs over 12,000 Queenslanders and indirectly supports over 1500 Queensland businesses.

“It is an essential component of the Queensland economy,” Smith said.

He added that as the sector’s significance and role in society is evolving, it’s important to ensure WRIQ is driving that evolution in a positive direction.

“We effectively link to every key aspect of life, from hospitals, the education sector, mining, tourism, retail, hospitality, as well as households,” Smith said.

He explains that government data sets show the sector is now managing almost one million more tonnes of waste than what was recorded in a WRIQ study two years ago.

“What this demonstrates is the direct link between our growth and the populations we service,” Smith said.

“If we are to grow and develop successfully, we need to make sure the regulations that govern our sector and provide confidence to government and the community are fit for purpose.

“And this survey provides the Queensland industry with an opportunity to contribute their own experience to drive improvements”

The survey is open until 19 June, to partake click here.

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Advice to QLD businesses following Gov policy changes

Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) has released advice following the state Government’s release of QLD’s Energy from Waste Policy and its decision to defer the landfill waste levy.

Mark Smith, WRIQ CEO said the QLD Government has had to make tough decisions in the wake of Covid19 and that’s included deferral of the landfill levy.

“Responding to this we’ve put advice together with the support of one of Australia’s leading law firms, Minter Ellison, so our members are supported to adapt to this recent announcement,” he said.

The association, in collaboration with Minter Ellison, has released a two page alert for its members following the state Government’s new developments that will impact landfill operators across QLD.

“I don’t want to see rogue operators exploiting the situation and one of the ways industry and government can reduce this is both of us playing a role in communicating about expectations and changes and that’s what we’ve done with this advice,” Mark said.

In its advice to WRIQ members, the alert states that the announcement of a six-month deferment to the waste levy increase that was set to begin on July 1 2020, may also impact on the entities who use landfill facilities, depending on how their payment arrangements with landfill operators are structured.

WRIQ advised members that the amounts for the waste levy are set out in Schedule 1 of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011 for the foreseeable financial years until 2022.

“The waste levy will therefore remain at $75 per tonne for general waste, $105 per tonne for category 2 regulated waste, and $155 per tonne for category 1 regulated waste, until 31 December 2020,” the alert to WRIQ members states.

It was initially proposed $5 per tonne increases across all categories of waste, effective 1 July in each financial year, however the effect of the Government’s proposed change will be to defer the increase for the 2020-21 financial year to commence on 1 January 2021.

WRIQ advises members to consider proposing a variation to the contract, or consider whether ‘change of law’ clauses apply.

WRIQ advice to members

One reason for landfill operators to review their contractual arrangements in light of the deferral is because of the requirement under section 72K of the WRR Act that in order to claim ‘bad debt credits’ back from the State, should your customers become insolvent in the future and not pay, the ‘service delivery charge’ excluding GST imposed on the insolvent customer must not have been more than the waste levy at the relevant time, the alert stated.

The association said members need to take necessary steps for a manual override for six month and any misrepresentations in standard documentation should be corrected when the deferral occurs.

In its advice to local governments, WRIQ said they will need to factor this in to any budgetary decisions made on the assumption of an increased levy, and ensure that any representations made about the amount of the levy in relevant materials provided to ratepayers, including on all websites are correct.

Smith said industry feedback is welcome and he is encouraging any business operating in Queensland’s waste and resource recovery sector to take part in its regulator survey.

“This information collected provides us an evidence base to encourage better alignment with government processes and commercial realities around a number of factors including proposed changes to landfill pricing the notification period given to businesses,” he said.

WRIQ has also received advice from the QLD Minister for Environment, Leeanne Enoch, and the association is taking steps to organise more detailed explanation of the policy to its members.

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Industry responds to QLD waste levy deferment

The Queensland Government has announced a six-month deferment to the waste levy increase that was set to begin on July 1 2020.

The levy has been deferred for six months due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses operating within the waste sector in QLD.

The announcement has been welcomed by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), whilst Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland (WRIQ) stated in a members notice that the timing of the landfill level deferral is disappointing.

The six-month deferment will see the waste levy remain at $75 per tonne for general waste, and $105 and $125 per tonne for regulated wastes until 31 December 2020.

QLD joins the ranks of NSW and Victoria, being the first state movers in providing some form of levy relief, the former by way of deferring waste levy payments for the foreseeable future and the latter deferring its 1 July 2020 levy increase to 1 January 2021. WA’s waste levy has also been frozen for the 2020-21 year.

The move has been praised by the WMRR and CEO Gayle Sloan has credited the QLD government “proactivity in deferring the levy increase and the Department of Environment and Science is to be commended for listening to, and considering, the very real concerns of the industry”.

“As industry continues to face financial and operational challenges related to the pandemic, WMRR is encouraged to see jurisdictions taking a commonsense approach towards costs and regulatory pressures placed on our essential industry,” Sloan said.

“In deferring the levy increase, operators and their customers may have some financial respite while continuing to focus on the job at hand, which is keeping our services operating while ensuring the safety of our staff and community.”

Sloan stated that the WMRR has recommended that only the first proposed levy increment in 2020 be deferred to provide relief to operators and their customers facing financial challenges and all later increments should continue as planned in order to safeguard ongoing investments that will build the  industry.

WRIQ CEO, Mark Smith, received advice from DES on the Government’s decision to defer proposed landfill levy price increases last Friday evening on May 29, and believes the decision will impact QLD businesses and clients differently within the industry.

“This 11th hour notification is disappointing, as it provides our members and industry with minimal time to adapt and notify their supply chain of pricing impacts,” Smith said.

In response, WRIQ is collating general legal advice with WRIQ partner, Minter Ellison, to form advice and resources for its members, set to be available on Thursday June 4.

“The market works best when there is market certainty. Changing market conditions 4 weeks out from proposed increases will impact businesses differently. However in the age of Covid I recognise government need to make decisions that are best suited for the whole of Queensland,” Smith said.

He added that Post Covid, WRIQ would like to sit down with Government to determine a minimum timeframe in the event of future pricing changes.

“I respect that changes to landfill levies need to run a particular process but businesses also need to run to notify their clients and customers of the pricing changing. It would be great to bring both these processes into alignment,” he said.

The WMRR is also encouraging all future engagements with state governments.

“It is WMRR’s hope that SA will not continue to turn a blind eye to industry’s concerns and will follow in its neighbours’ footsteps by offering levy relief to operators,” Sloan said.

Last year the SA government implemented a 40 per cent levy increase, which Sloan stated was a shock announcement “with no industry consultation whatsoever and continues to place significant strain on existing projects and operations”.

“Now is the time to ease these financial pressures on operators so that we can maintain a viable industry and importantly, assist in the rebuilding of a post-COVID economy,” she said.

According to advice from DES to landfill operators, business systems and processes need to be reviewed to ensure the QLD deferral is incorporated.

“Your current levy obligations remain, including waste measurement and recording, monthly data returns and monthly invoice payments, so continue these as-normal,” the DES advised to landfill operators.

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NWRIC State Associations update

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

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (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 affiliated state associations 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).

Two new State Association appointments:

Mark Smith, previous EO at VWMA, has headed to warmer weather this month to take on the CEO role at WRIQ.

Alex Serpo, NWRIC’s Secretary, has moved across to fill the EO role at the VWMA.

While retiring from WRIQ, Rick Ralph will continue as EO for WRINT.

Congratulations to Mark and Alex. I know both are looking forward to their new roles, meeting members and advancing the industry.

Mark can be contacted at mark.smith@wriq.com.au and Alex at Alex@vta.com.au

WRIQ – Environmental Regulator Survey:

Have your say on the Queensland’s Environmental Regulator – WRIQ is inviting Queensland waste and recycling operators to share their experiences on Queensland’s environmental regulator.

The survey includes a focus on how performance of the industry’s regulator, the Department of Environment & Science (DES), has evolved since a WRIQ review in 2018 identified important industry concerns. It will also seek opinions on implementation of the new Queensland waste strategy and waste levy.

The survey is open to anyone in the Queensland waste industry and participants are encouraged to share their thoughts on the key issues, which WRIQ will then share back to government and our members.

It is expected the survey will identify priority areas for both WRIQ and DES. The survey comes at an important time for the industry, with the Queensland State Election later this year and expected economic stimulus packages issued by State and Federal Governments post Covid-19 response.

To complete the survey please click here.  The survey closes on 19 June.

Please contact memberservices@wriq.com.au if you have any questions.

VWMA – Chemical Stockpiles, Waste Education, New Recycling Authority:

EY Report into Chemical Stockpiles ReleasedErnst and Young (EY) has released its report into the EPA’s management of 14 chemical waste sites between January 2016 and April 2019, including the facility which caught fire in Campbellfield in April 2019.

In response, the EPA has already acted, including the development of a digital priority waste tracking system.

The VWMA will be working closely with the EPA to help roll out and improve this technology, as well as other important programs to ensure the safe disposal of hazardous liquids.

New yellow top bin waste education material available to businesses – In order to reduce contamination in yellow top bins, Sustainability Victoria has launched a new public education campaign.

The education material can be viewed at www.recycling.vic.gov.au. Businesses and councils wishing to share the material can download it from the Victorian Government website.

Please share this material if you can.

Advertising commenced 24 May and will run until 30 June, including broadcast free to air TV and on demand TV, social media and radio.

Consultation Underway to Develop a New Recycling Authority in VictoriaThe VWMA are currently consulting with the DELWP on the introduction of a new Waste and Recycling Act and Waste Authority for Victoria. The Waste Authority will help to deliver the new Recycling Victoria program.

The VWMA will be seeking to work proactively with government on all aspects of this new program, including the container deposit scheme, Recycled First and regulations to protect waste as an essential service.

WRISA – Container Deposit Review, Single Use Plastics:

Container Deposit Scheme Review – The SA government is currently completing an economic study and material flow analysis on kerbside, MRF and commercial CDS activity.

The outcomes of these investigations will be included in the impending CDS Review Discussion Paper, which will contain proposed changes to the scheme and form the basis of the next round of public consultation.

Legislation amendment and implementation are expected to commence in late 2020 and run through to early 2021.

Single Use Plastics – The Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Bill 2020 was recently introduced into parliament.

On commencement, the main points within the legislation include prohibition of the sale, supply or distribution of single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, and drink stirrers.

Following a period of 12 months, expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clam-shell containers, and oxo-degradable plastic products will also be prohibited.

The legislation also contains provisions for exemptions and the inclusion of additional products, which can be made via regulations.

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We say thank you

Waste Management Review and Australia’s waste management associations would like to give a big thank you for all those out there working hard amid challenges.

This article provides a list of some lifetime members that have made a significant contribution to the sector.

While some state-based associations are less than five years old, others such as the Waste Contractors and Recycling Association NSW (WCRA) are some of the oldest waste associations in the world.

Newer associations such as the Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ), maintain a rich history spanning just over a decade, while the Victorian Waste Management Association’s (VWMA) has over 30 years under its belt.

Associations that have existed for many years have a number of lifetime members. In WCRA’s case, life members means persons who have been appointed by the executive for an outstanding service of a minimum of 10 years to the industry.

These hard working members have consistently put the interests of the association and industry ahead of their own commercial and person interests. Additionally, they have enhanced the operation and reputation of the association and industry.

Tony Khoury, WCRA Executive Director, would like to acknowledge the following life members for their service to the waste management industry and the association:

— Arthur Baker

— Bernadette Byrnes

— Terry Dene

— Mike Noble

— Barry Thomas

— Harry Wilson

“Through their involvement with WCRA, these wonderful people enhanced the operation and reputation of the association and the industry,” Mr Khoury said.

“They consistently put the interests of the association and the industry ahead of their personal and business interests in the discharge of their respective duties and responsibilities.”

In Victoria, the VWMA recognised Graham Lenthall at their annual general meeting for his contribution to the industry.

Graham, who retired from the industry in 2018, has accumulated over 40 years of experience across many of today’s well known waste and recycling operators.

The association congratulates and thanks Graham for his service.

Graham joins other industry greats such as:

— Edward (Ted) Smith

— Harry Gooden

— Neil Stow

— Tony Whelan

VWMA CEO Peter Anderson said the industry has improved and developed with the assistance of the above individuals who have consistently displayed their passion, commitment and dedication.

“It is with enormous pride that they be recognised and forever be remembered for what they have done for our industry,” he said.

WRIQ would like to acknowledge the following lifetime members:

— Bob Eggleton

— Nev Brownlow

— Grant Stockwell

WRIQ CEO Mark Smith said it is so important we acknowledge those industry greats that have contributed so much to our sector.

“In Queensland we also look to acknowledge the great work happening across our state through our annual award,” he said.

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) was formed in early 2017 and represents major companies like Alex Fraser Group, Cleanaway, J.J. Richards and Sons, Solo Resource Recovery, Sims Metals Management, Suez, Toxfree, Remondis, ResourceCo and Veolia.

The NWRIC would like to acknowledge Doug Dean and Max Spedding, former CEOs of Veolia and NWRIC respectively.

Mr Spedding recently spoke to Waste Management Review about his vast experience and provided some sentiments about the potential future direction of the waste and resource recovery sector.

To subscribe to Waste Management Review with free home delivery click here

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WRIQ appoints new CEO

After more than 14 years at the helm, Rick Ralph will be handing the reigns as CEO of Queensland’s largest industry and business body representing the waste and recycling sector to newly appointed CEO Mark Smith.

Rick has made an enormous contribution to the sector nationally but in particular in Queensland where he founded WCRA (Qld) which evolved to WRIQ that many know today.

In his time as CEO, Rick’s delivered initiatives and programs that have strengthened the industry in Queensland and has  advocated for the many WRIQ members who are delivering essential services to every single Queensland business and household.

Stepping into the role of CEO will be former Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) Executive Officer Mark Smith.

Rick Ralph

In his time as Executive Officer of the VWMA, Mark raised the profile and membership base of the association creating new member services, training and events calendar while advocating for more effective regulation and engagement by the EPA and further investment into the sector by the Victorian Government.

Mr Smith said he was proud of the contribution he had made, including advocating for a number of policy measures included in the Recycling Victoria policy, but it was time for a new challenge.

“I’m really looking forward to supporting WRIQ members. As it is an election year in Queensland, our advocacy will be really important in shaping the state’s future in waste management and resource recovery,” Mr Smith said.

“I’m standing on the shoulder of a giant coming into the role and really excited to build on the strong foundations that have been created by Rick and the WRIQ Board.”

He added that it is no doubt a challenging time for WRIQ members, but they remain determined to deliver essential services to Queenslanders and those business that are still opening and operating.

As the transition to new CEO is currently underway, Mr Smith and outgoing CEO Rick Ralph both agreed that COVID-19 would not impact how WRIQ supports its members.

“We hear a lot of people talking about how this is unprecedented times – and this is most certainly true, but we can only get through this if we work together with government, business, community and elected representatives,” Mr Smith said.

“While there are a lot of unknowns, for our sector it doesn’t change the fact that we still need to go out and deliver services. We do this well and what I’ll be advocating to the Queensland Government will be for tangible outcomes that support our sector’s future growth”

Mr Smith said that although Rick was retiring from the role, he was confident Rick would remain a close ally for WRIQ.

WMR recently sat down with Rick to talk about his contribution to the sector you can read that article here.

To subscribe to Waste Management Review with free home delivery click here

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Build it and they will come: Rick Ralph

Waste Management Review catches up with outgoing Waste and Recycling Industry QLD CEO Rick Ralph, talking international waste bans, Queensland policy setting and his career journey.

In 1981, a 20-something Rick Ralph was selling toilet paper and towels in Melbourne.

He’d introduced hospitals to a range of one-way clinical products and disposal paper products, but little did he know his life would be about to change.

Four years prior, he had dropped out of university and followed the sabbatical adolescent rite of passage to travel the globe.

“I probably didn’t apply myself as much as I should have. It’s ironic that I’ve just been installed in the School Hall of Fame for my achievements in the community and environment now 40 years later – quite incredible,” he recalls.

A call out of the blue from one of Rick’s mentors at Comalco Aluminium led him to head up the Cash for Cans Initiative in Victoria  – a world-first container refund scheme.

“Someone had heard about someone, who knew someone, who knew someone, and I got a phone call. I thought this was interesting and in January 1981, started my career in recycling and waste management,” he says.

Comalco promoted aluminium can recycling to the general public by inspiring children and community groups to collect their cans. It saw the establishment of buy-back centres where users could return their cans for a cash return. Much like modern container refund schemes, they raised significant funds for community and charity projects across Australia.

The occasion calls for reflection as Waste Management Review Editor Toli Papadopoulos caught up with Rick, the Chief Executive Officer of Waste Recycling Industry Association (QLD). As Rick recently announced his retirement, I spoke with him over lunch to discuss his 39-year career in waste and recycling.

CASH FOR CANS

Comalco Aluminium’s Cash for Cans initiative would later inspire similar schemes in Western Australia and internationally, and led to a ban on glass sales at Australian Rules Football grounds in Victoria.

“The introduction of the aluminium can and Comalco’s program was the complete reset of the environmental recycling movement in Australia,” Rick says.

“It changed recycling from putting out your 55-litre bin and a few bottles and paper for the garbo to collect to a wholesale reform where it introduced and supported community-based litter programs. It shifted the way glass recycling occurred and shifted the light weighting of glass bottles.”

He adds that it removed steel cans from beverage one-way use and reduced litter of cans from the waste stream. It also triggered the paper industry to change its recycling model.

“We paid out millions each year. At one stage we had 33 per cent of Australia’s primary and secondary school system actively engaged, we had employees developing school’s programs and it was the founding of community events such as the can raft regattas that still go on today.

“What many in government and the community don’t realise is that the aluminium can had the highest recycling rate in the world. At its peak, it performed well over 65 per cent recovery and stabilised somewhere near 60 to 62 percent regularly.”

As the program matured and kerbside commenced in the late 90s, focus shifted, and the program was disbanded.

In the years since, Rick helped introduce beach litter programs with the late Dame Phyllis Frost from Keep Australia Beautiful, while also later working in WA and South Africa.

But in the early 90s, he went back to the Sunshine State as Director of Waste Services at the City of Brisbane, a role which he held for three years.

“I left that because it was either politicians winning or Rick, and Rick was never going to win,” he jokes.

“I then bought a recycling business and we were one of the first materials recovery facilities (MRFs) in Brisbane and the state’s largest glass recycler.”

He stayed in this role for around five years.

Rick then went on to work at an Australian-first pyrolysis municipal solid waste plant as General Manager Recycling and Resource Recovery in Wollongong in NSW.

“It was a genuine attempt at waste-to-energy at the turn of the century and a time when a lot of the alternative waste treatments got going in NSW. We were competing in a very noisy and developing waste space,” Rick says.

THE BUSINESS VOICE

In 2006, an opportunity arose to start an industry association which would become what Rick says provided a business voice for waste and recycling. Working with Tony Khoury, who heads up the Waste Contractors Recyclers Association (WCRA) NSW, one of the oldest waste industry associations in the world, Rick helped established WCRA QLD. Formed in 2007, the association would later be rebranded to Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) in 2012.

On his achievements with WRIQ, he cites supporting the development of environmentally relevant activities such as the Department of Environment and Science (DES) version of EPA guidelines for waste-related activities and our future leaders’ program.

Additionally, replicating the governance model of WRIQ in the Northern Territory and supporting state-based associations in WA and SA was another highlight. Not least, his work setting up the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council in partnership with former CEO Max Spedding.

In respect to the repeal of the levy by the Campbell Newman Government, Rick says there are those that accused WRIQ of advocating for its repeal – a complete falsehood.

“We advocated to get it right because the framework was wrong. The current levy is still wrong as we have this disconnect where only half the state has got it and only that half is paying for the levy.”

Reflecting on the lessons learnt from Cash for Cans, Rick says the Queensland Government’s container refund scheme (CRS) changed forever the operating parameters of existing recycling systems.

Rick says that disruption was inevitable but he doesn’t think we have truly yet analysed where that will stabilise. He says that coupled with changes in commodity values, international quality specifications and product market access, 12 months along only now are we seeing the real impacts to kerbside systems.

“From the social equity view it’s been hugely successful as it provided many communities in Queensland previously without access to recycling an opportunity to participate – a great result,” he says.

“However, it’s time we step back, analyse these changes and leverage those outcomes. We must refocus our attention and ensure kerbside and many other commercial systems are just as sustainable. Existing kerbside models are outdated. They need revitalising and readjustment for them to survive this new community norm.”

CHALLENGES AHEAD

Rick says right now one of the great challenges facing Queensland is a disconnect between government policy and industry, describing the regulatory framework as a failure.

“Be it developing and improving existing assets of brownfield sites or even greenfield developments, Queensland currently is a ‘basket case’ in terms of its planning arrangements and the approvals framework and government is totally responsible for that confused and complex environment.”

Industry was blind-sided when the Queensland Government exercised its legislative powers, introducing new requirements for buffer zones on all new or expanded facilities in the Swanbank and New Chum industrial area.

A Temporary Legislative Planning Instrument (TLPI) was used to suspend part of their planning scheme and took effect for two years from 6 April 2018. The TLPI introduced a 750-metre buffer from existing, approved or planned residential areas for new and expanded waste facilities, including in landfill.

“If you look historically in planning terms, WRIQ agreed in 2013 with the government of the day introducing planning instruments that gave protection to all our existing assets and gave sensitive receptors and community protection as well.

“With the re-election of this current government, it again changed the planning framework, the third government in six years to do so, by slapping a TLPI on us in the most sensitive and secure landfill region for southeast Queensland without any industry consultation.”

Rick’s frustration with the slow process of reform saw him commission an independent survey of 67 WRIQ members in 2018 into the performance of the DES.

The feedback called for a complete overhaul of the DES and the instalment of an EPA to regulate the industry. He maintains that position is more apt today than ever.

I ask if there’s been any progress on the matter since then, he laughs and says Queensland is on Fijian time.

“As a local Fijian once said to me, ‘no worry, no hurry here’,” he says.

“From an industry perspective I think government has heard us. But there is this continuing reluctance to genuinely understand and change things. However we’re going to maintain the pressure. We must.

“I think there’s an opportunity to have a look at what Victoria has done. It may not be perfect, but I think from time to time we need to actually take a step back.”

“I hope my successor goes harder than I ever did on getting our reforms through with the regulator.”

And despite Queensland introducing a $70-per-tonne waste levy in July 2018 on waste to landfill, with council and state elections coming up in 2020, Rick says we are heading for a 10-month period of political paralysis.

“When you add the slowed local economy and lack of industry development, it’s very difficult to actually identify if the levy has worked or not.

“Yes it’s caused a rethink, but what’s disappointing is that industry wants to invest, industry wants to go forward, industry wants to create jobs, but we can’t build a thing.

“You’ve got a culture in Queensland where you can set up, start operating, build it and get retrospective approval. This is the greatest threat to our economic development.”

He says the role of the Federal Government should now be to focus on improving regulatory planning processes to ensure states can support and deliver the national targets.

While his achievements over the past two decades are distinct, he says WRIQ has been grateful just to have a seat at the table.

“You’re never going to influence policy, but you must be at the table to talk.

“You can, however, influence regulations because regulations are where it is for any business owner.”

On the issue of the international waste ban, Rick says we need to get serious and stop referring to it as a ban on “waste”.

He points out that we don’t export waste, but rather recyclate. As waste management in Australia has traditionally focused on collection with a lack of substantive local end markets, he questions why we are banning material if there is a sensible end destination for value-added material.

The National Waste Report finds around 5.6 million tonnes of paper and cardboard was generated in 2016-17, with 60 per cent of this recycled and 40 per cent sent to landfill.

A mere 12 per cent of the 2.5 million tonnes of plastics was recycled that same year. Given the high generation figures, Rick ask if the focus is on international environmental and human health harm, then there are far more urgent materials for the attention of COAG, such as baled up scrap metal that is going out under the radar.

“For goodness sake, industry can’t even update an existing brownfield site. How the hell are we going to find remanufacturing for 1.2 million tonnes of paper and products, and more than 250,000 tonnes of plastics in just a couple of years?”

He adds rushed policy is bad policy, and advocates for a full regulatory impact study that quantifies the economic, social and business impacts of these bans before they happen.

“It’s great we’re talking about remanufacturing, but in the current environment of the interference by government at all levels and our elected representatives, it’s going to be difficult. Realistically, if we don’t have a home for it, materials will go straight to landfill with the only benefits going to government from waste levies.

“That’s the reality and that’s not acceptable.”

As for whether he has any regrets.  Rick sips his drink and responds without hesitation: ‘nothing’.

He says you need to make the mistakes of past to know what you’ve done wrong, so you don’t make them again.

“It’s been fun, but it hasn’t ended. This is a personal reset of my own priorities and handing things over to a new generation of leaders.”

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WRIQ announces 2019 industry awards finalists

The Waste Recycling Industry Association QLD (WRIQ) has announced category finalists for the WRIQ 2019 Industry Awards.

WRIQ CEO Rick Ralph said the awards aim to recognise individuals and projects that contribute to Queensland’s waste management and resource recovery sector.

“The individuals and teams selected as finalists have demonstrated not only a high level of proficiency at their jobs, but also their dedication and commitment to improving and developing Queensland’s essential waste management and resource recovery industry,” Mr Ralph said.

“I thank all those who nominated for this year’s awards for their contribution to the industry and congratulate all deserving finalists.”

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner 19 July at the Brisbane Hilton.

Finalists:

Administrator of the year: SoilCyclers Sarah Armstrong, Raw Metal Corp Steffanie-Jo Kelly and Kanga Bins Tiffany Lim.

Maintenance employee of the year: Suez Randall Mckey, Westrex Services Jason Noble and BMI Group Andrew Russell.

Plant and equipment operator of the year: Cleanaway Cyril Ballard and Suez Kane Pym, Marlyn Compost Andrew Russell.

Trainee or apprentice of the year: Cleanaway Taryn Batt, Suez Dwayne Brown and Sims Metal Management Whitney Simpson.

Driver of the year: Raw Metal Corp Gary Arnold, SUEZ Recycling and Recovery Antony Francis and Cleanaway Paul O’Hara.

Resource recovery employee of the year: Veolia Gary Applegate, SoilCyclers Simon Brakels and BMI Group Corey Michael.

Collaborative achievement in resource recovery: Cleanaway container refund scheme project implementation, Coastal Skip Bin Hire “Recycling Solutions” and Kanga Bins container refund and ART machine installation.

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QLD releases energy from waste policy

The public is being invited to comment on the Queensland Government’s Energy-from-Waste policy discussion paper, released earlier this week.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said finding alternative uses for waste was becoming more important than ever.

“The discussion paper is giving Queenslanders a chance to contribute to the development of a new policy, provide feedback on the types of technologies and help us plan for the future,” Ms Enoch said.

“The paper is an important action under the government’s new waste strategy.”

Ms Enoch said the government’s waste strategy outlined priorities and actions to help grow the recycling and resource recovery sector.

“We have set ambitious targets to recover 90 per cent of the waste we generate by 2050 and recycle at least 75 per cent of that waste,” Ms Enoch said.

“But we acknowledge that some wastes cannot be recycled, and it is better to retain the value of these wastes by recovering energy than it is to dispose of them to landfill. This is all part of our broader transition to a circular economy.”

Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) Executive Officer Rick Ralph said WRIQ and its members welcomed the new waste strategy.

“Energy from waste will play an important role in helping to achieve the objectives and targets of the strategy,” Mr Ralph said.

“The release of the Energy-from-Waste discussion paper is a step in the right direction. Industry looks forward to having this discussion with the government in this important initiative.”

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said energy from waste was a vital part of a sustainable waste and resource recovery system.

“Its technologies are also proven globally, with more than 2000 energy from waste facilities operating safely across the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, many having operated for decades,” Ms Sloan said.

“We look forward to working with the Queensland Government to leverage the technical expertise of our industry to develop a policy that promotes investment in, and growth of, an integrated waste management and resource recovery system that includes energy from waste.”

Public consultation is open until 26 August.

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