In the largest convention of its kind, this year’s Future Waste Resources Forum updated the Queensland waste industry on the important next steps for resource recovery in 2019.
A welcome presence from the Queensland Government saw three different state ministers and various government departments present at this year’s Future Waste Resources Convention 2018 – with more than 250 guests attending the three-day event.
With a waste strategy under development and waste levy scheduled to commence on 4 March, 2019, the trade exhibition and equipment displays offered an opportunity for delegates to discuss ways to improve the state’s waste diversion and resource recovery growth in line with industry aspirations and community expectations.
Held at Ipswich’s Workshops Rail Museum from 11-13 October, the event featured an address from the City of Ipswich, Veolia’s Henry Gundry on the company’s Rethinking Sustainability campaign, MRA Consulting Group’s Mike Ritchie discussing the impact of National Sword and Adam Nicholson on Queensland’s Container Refund Scheme.
Government representatives included an official opening from Queensland Environment Minister Leanne Enoch and a second day welcome address from Infrastructure Minister Cameron Dick. Michael Burke of the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning spoke of the bio economy, while Chris Hambling of the Department of Environment and Science discussed the state’s waste strategy that is currently under development. Mike Pickering of the Department of Transport and Main Roads also provided an update on pavements and sustainability.
In front of a large audience, Minister Enoch told businesses and local councils that the state government’s priority is to work with the community and industry to reduce landfill and encourage resource recovery.
“We are in a fortunate position to have internationally competitive businesses right here in Queensland, using cutting-edge technologies and processes for turning waste into valuable and profitable, products and services,” she said.
“We want to build on that competitive advantage.”
Rick Ralph, CEO of Waste, Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) told Waste Management Review that the event was the largest convention of its kind in Queensland history.
“It was the most broad group of stakeholders I’ve ever seen in my 14 years with the association,” Mr Ralph said.
“With three different state ministers and associate ministers present, all the messages were the same and aligned with where the industry wants to go.”
Mr Ralph said some of the highlights included an ABC-chaired panel on waste to energy and discussions on the bioeconomy and using food in a smarter manner. Sustainability Victoria’s (SV) Julian Sparks also spoke about how SV’s model could be applied to Queensland.
The event featured more than 30 trade exhibitions, including a diverse array of products, from new electric waste trucks, to concrete processers and odour and dust suppression technologies.
With more than 30 year’s experience in the resource efficiency sector, Ray Georgeson was a keynote speaker at the event. Mr Georgeson presented on the 20-year journey in the UK from a linear to circular approach. He operates as Chief Executive of the Resource Association – a trade body for the reprocessing and recycling industries and was Director of Policy and Evaluation of WRAP from 2001 to 2008, an industry association which works with government to improve resource efficiency.
It was at WRAP that he produced four business plans directing more than £200 million of public spending on recycling market development, local authority recycling, public communications and waste minimisation programs. His efforts led to a fourfold increase in household recycling since 2001.
Mr Georgeson told Waste Management Review that the UK had prior to the mid-2000s developed a robust recycling market, but started to become reliant on China as it opened its markets.
“Now we too have to start reviving our thinking,” Mr Georgeson said.
He said one of the issues in Queensland and Australia more broadly is its impact from China’s ban on waste imports. Mr Georgeson said his observations at the event have shown the Queensland Government is putting extensive resources into market development with a waste levy on its way.
Mr Georgeson noted that an industry strategy to encourage more recyclables isn’t going to happen overnight, so it’s about looking for quick wins in the mean time.
“My main message is don’t delay with developing a waste strategy focused on market development and developing local industry policy. Your journey has to start somewhere. It could be looking for quicker wins in improving your collection system and quality of materials,” Mr Georgeson said.
“Short-term markets can be found, or policy improvements made over time, to address issues such as procurement and mandatory recycled content. It would take even the best government in the world at least a year to formulate legislation and get a strategy through parliament.”
A landmark announcement of Future Waste Resources was that WRIQ would be hosting a new event next year in the form of an equipment field day from 28 to 29 August, 2019. The Australia-wide event will be held in a new venue in south-east Queensland. It will feature equipment demonstrations, in a field day to showcase innovative waste and recycling technologies such as drones, trucks and water treatment.
“I am confident that Ipswich will not be known as the dumping ground of the resource recovery sector but rather the innovation capital in the fullness of time,” Mr Ralph said.
This article was published in the November issue of Waste Management Review.