The collaborative model: MWRRG

Waste Management Review speaks with MWRRG’s new Procurement and Contacts Director Rishad Syed about the group’s collaborative approach to procurement. 

In July, the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) announced a shortlist of companies to develop an alternative to landfill in Melbourne’s south-east.

The announcement followed a March call for expressions of interest for solutions to provide an alternative to landfill for 16 councils, the largest tender of its kind ever undertaken.

“Advanced waste processing solutions will play a significant role in achieving the Victorian Government’s new target to divert 80 per cent of household rubbish from landfill by 2030,” MWRRG CEO Jill Riseley said in March.

“Sixteen councils from the south east of Melbourne are involved in the tender, and together, the councils collected over 490,000 tonnes of residual rubbish in 2016.

“This is forecast to grow to over 700,000 tonnes a year by 2046.”

It is expected the process will take close to two years to reach a final tender stage, with a 20 to 25-year contract to be awarded by 2022.

MWRRG has a long history of developing collaborative contracts with councils across Melbourne, and in May, the group appointed a new Director of Procurement and Contacts, Rishad Syed.

Syed has extensive strategic leadership experience and comes to MWRRG from Northern Health, where he most recently held the role of Director, Procurement and Supply.

“Major procurement projects undertaken in this time included the $163 million extension of the Northern Hospital,” Syed says.

According to Syed, MWRRG’s collaborative procurement approach offers large volumes of waste and recycling to the market – delivering economies of scale and greater certainty for industry.

“This will help drive investment and transparency, open the market to more players, and reduce our reliance on international markets,” he says.

“Through collaborative contracts, councils can attract private investments in the resource recovery sector that deliver efficiencies.”

Syed explains that by bringing councils together, MWRRG reduces the number of individual procurements in the market.

This works to drive down the cost of providing waste and recycling services for councils, he says, and in turn, creates savings that can be passed on to ratepayers.

“The collaborative procurement model is arguably unique to the waste management sector,” Syed says.

“A recent review of MWRRG’s Procurement Framework and Contract Model by independent law firms found the model to be appropriate for the type of procurements to date.”

While MWRRG’s advanced waste processing tender is its latest, the cornerstone of the group’s collaborative procurement model is organics.

Building Melbourne’s organics recycling network through collaborative procurement models plays a key role in the group’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Strategic plan.

The network aligns with, and will support, Recycling Victoria’s target of halving the volume of organic material sent to landfill by 2030, with a mandatory roll-out of food and green waste kerbside collection from 2026-27.

“MWRRG manages six collaborative contracts for food and green waste processing and is building the capabilities of local government to establish, implement, monitor and evaluate new services by providing comprehensive evidence-based guides, training and social marketing campaigns to encourage behavioural change,” Syed says.

The network is supported by MWRRG’s Back to Earth Initiative, which seeks to raise community understanding of council kerbside organics recycling.

“We have established three collaborative procurements for 24 councils across metropolitan Melbourne, with services provided by five contractors,” Syed says.

“Last year, Sacyr opened their $65 million facility, which was made possible under one of those contracts, negotiated by MWRRG on behalf of eight councils, to process kerbside food and green waste.”

In late May, the state-of-the-art industrial composting facility in Melbourne’s Dandenong South received final environmental approval for the Victorian EPA.

“Through this collaborative contract, Sacyr receives enough kerbside material to run its facility, which has a processing capacity of up to 120,000 tonnes annually,” Syed says.

Over the next two years MWRRG will deliver several significant collaborative procurement outcomes for councils in Melbourne.

Syed explains that these contracts will help the Victorian Government deliver on its Recycling Victoria policy commitments.

“We are embarking on a significant recycling collaborative contract, with a state-wide lens to infrastructure and service provision,” he says.

“This collaborative procurement – with the six other WRRGs and Victoria’s 79 councils – will deliver facilities for the processing of kerbside recycling, with capacity and security for the future.”

MWRRG are also undertaking the procurement of a new landfill services contract to start in 2021, Syed says. He adds that the group are working in consultation with industry and councils.

MWRRG currently manages four landfill contracts on behalf of 26 participating councils.

“The tender for the procurement closed in early June and we are currently evaluating the submissions,” Syed says.

Furthermore, MWRRG is building on its existing procurement approach through the development of a state-wide collaborative procurement roadmap.

“Whilst recognising regional attributes and opportunities, this process, under the Recycling Industry Strategic Plan project, facilitates collaborative procurement processes for recycling,” Syed says.

He explains that the strategic plan will produce efficiencies, facilitate infrastructure development and reduce costs to councils.

“This aligns with the key Recycling Victoria policy priorities and commitments,” Syed adds.

“We will be working closely with the WRRGs to review procurement activity, progress development of individual WRRG procurements, comprising the initiatives to support the state-wide collaborative Procurement of Recycling Sorting Services.”

While the procurement of new services will be an essential part of Syed’s new role, his additional focus will be the management of MWRRG’s existing contracts.

“We manage seven contracts, valued at $100 million annually, on behalf of 31 participating metropolitan councils for waste and food and green waste recycling services,” Syed explains.

“I’ll be working to ensure we maintain the high standards MWRRG is known for, particularly the contract co-ordination and administrative services necessary to ensure performance outcomes are met, and issues are managed efficiently and effectively through the life of a contract.”

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