Australia’s waste management and resource recovery landscape has undergone rapid transformation in the past few years. As the nation takes responsibility for its waste, the environmental and regulatory goal posts continue to change. That’s where Talis Consultants comes in.
The Western Australia-based company has built a team that is industry focused and recognises that awareness is critical to resource recovery strategies.
The waste management team has gained recognition for its service and project delivery including providing waste strategies, community recycling and drop-off facilities, waste transfer stations, recycling and recovery facilities, landfills and more.
WMR met some of the team:
Senior Waste Management Consultant
Courtney admits she hadn’t thought about working in the waste management industry, but as she neared the completion of her Bachelor of Applied Science, a technical officer role was advertised at her local council to join the waste team.
“I didn’t know what to expect from the role, but loved it from the day I started,” she says.
When she started with the council in 2007 there was a focus on service delivery, with little attention on resource recovery. Over the years there has been a significant shift towards resource recovery and circular economy, with these now at the forefront of a majority of strategic decisions.
Courtney says the change in focus needs to be met with more funds for education and system improvements relating to avoidance, reuse and circularity.
She says while the spotlight is often on the implementation of services or infrastructure, which are critical to the industry, education is sometimes overlooked.
“Education is critical to this industry,” she says. “There is something about witnessing someone having the ‘light bulb moment’ and making the connection that their actions and decisions have an impact on the wider issue.
“Every small change can make a difference to this industry.”
Courtney hopes to see a shift towards personal responsibility and acknowledgement that waste is a resource to be managed sustainably.
“There needs to be a shift in people’s perceptions that once their bins are emptied at the kerbside, their waste is someone else’s issue to deal with,” she says.
Senior Waste Management Consultant
Twelve years ago, Lyndell Coates thought an opportunity to work on a waste project would be interesting. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.
In that time, she’s worked in both Canada and Australia and seen a greater awareness that current consumption and disposal practices require a rethink.
Drawing comparisons between the countries, Lyndell says that while Australia’s residential collection, being fully automated, is more advanced, the implementation of food organics, garden organics (FOGO) and product stewardship programs lag.
She says if Australia is to move toward a circular economy, there needs to be more focus on creating markets for recycled materials such as plastics and glass. Hand in hand with that is the need for more education about living sustainably and creating less waste.
“Education is critical to changing people’s attitude and behaviour towards managing waste,” Lyndell says.
“We all make many decisions on a daily basis that influence how much waste we generate and where it ends up. Identifying different target audiences and tailoring messaging to these is key.”
One of the biggest challenges, Lyndell says, is that it takes time and money to effect change. She would like to see more support for local government to manage the waste that communities create, as well as making industries that generate a lot of waste more responsible for the end-of-life disposal.
Waste Management Consultant
Megan Mather started her career in local government as an Environmental Officer within the Water and Waste Directorate.
Increasingly interested in the operations and environmental management of the council’s waste management facilities she eventually became the Senior Waste Management Officer.
“I am in constant awe of how passionate and innovative the industry can be, and the continued challenges faced across the states,” Megan says.
She’s witnessed many changes that have forced the industry to evolve, including the introduction of China’s National Sword Policy, implementation of export bans, the extension and growth of the waste levy across all states and continued efforts to transition towards a circular economy.
While there have been advancements in Australia’s waste management, Megan says several areas need more attention.
“I would like to see a consistent approach to waste management adopted from a federal level,” she says.
“That could include standards for kerbside collection infrastructure, waste levies, changes to legislative processes to support the development of onshore processing infrastructure and markets and encourage end users to increase the uptake of recycled content.”
Megan says she’s excited to see how the waste management industry responds in the coming years to the implementation of targeted waste management and resource recovery activities and the development and commissioning of multiple waste management infrastructure projects.
Senior Waste Management Consultant
After completing an environmental engineering degree, Jenni Wroe was offered a casual position with Talis Consultants in the waste division.
She says she had little understanding of the waste management and resource recovery industry but soon learned that waste affects everyone – from everyday bin collection to the impact of climate change.
In her short time at Talis, Jenni says she’s seen many positive changes within the industry, and an increase in interest from the general community on how waste is managed.
“Waste management is a shared responsibility and I think that the increased interest in what is happening with waste is such a positive shift,” she says. “The closure of overseas markets taking our recyclable materials and subsequent regulation of the export of certain materials by the Australian Government shows we need to manage our resources in our own community.
“I’m fortunate to have found myself in the waste management and resource recovery industry at such a progressive time.”
Jenni says the development of a circular market is progressing, but more needs to be done to absorb Australia’s domestic recycled material that is being collected.
She says building a strong remanufacturing sector and extending producer responsibilities will be key to better outcomes in the future.
Communities play a role too when choosing what they buy and influencing the way manufacturers, retailers and governments take action.
“There’s no argument that underpinning all this change is a constant need for education,” Jenni says.
“Keeping the communities connected enables them to better understand the impact waste has and to change the perception of waste and stimulate innovation in the industry.”
For more information, visit: www.talisconsultants.com.au