Waste Expo: Reducing waste in communities

waste expo

Local councils are spearheading innovative waste management and community engagement programs that better enable their communities to adopt change, with the goal of meeting the Australian government’s target of 80 per cent recovery rates by 2030.

Waste Expo Australia, returning to Melbourne from 26 – 27 October 2022, will showcase local government and community initiatives from across Australia including Albury City Council, City of Port Phillip, Brisbane City Council and more.

Albury City Council, presenting at the event, owns and operates a large regional landfill. For more than 30 years, the council traditionally buried 90 per cent of waste taken to the landfill facility. However, it realised that, unless something changed, the life of this facility was finite. Ten years ago, the city embraced an ambitious target to halve waste to landfill.

Andrea Baldwin, Team Leader, Resource Recovery said the program has engaged the community to take ownership and accountability for the waste they generate at home and how they dispose of it.

“In the past ten years, due to the community engagement and infrastructure program, the landfill facility which was due to close in 2020 has an extended life of 30-40 years,” Baldwin said.

“Council placed a small levy of $2.50 on each tonne of waste entering the landfill to support education. This provides a regular annual amount of $400,000 to be used to educate the community. Education in our region reaches 180,000 people and provides consistent messaging around waste and recycling management.

“We drive change by bringing the community along for the journey and ensuring they have buy-in. If I use our regional landfill as an example, we provide regular tours of the facility to show the students and community members where the waste goes. This is a powerful tool to communicate with the community.”

Michelle Mandl-Keating from TOMRA Cleanaway, which operates the NSW Container Deposit Scheme (CDS), Return and Earn, said extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, such as CDS, mobilise the community to participate in waste and resource recovery through legislating a ‘polluter pays’ approach to resource management.

“Community participation and support of outcomes is vital to  deliver a circular economy and move away from waste as a concept,” she said.

“In NSW, the CDS was focused on removing one of the most visual pollutants from the litter stream. This is achieved by providing a financial incentive to the community to participate. Direct refund of the container deposit has played a key role in triggering a paradigm shift in the community regarding the value of waste.”

Both Michelle and Andrea will be speaking at the upcoming Waste Expo, which takes place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) on 26 and 27 October.

Waste Expo Australia is the country’s largest gathering of waste management and resource recovery professionals, which brings together leading solution providers in the waste management, recycling, resource recovery and sustainability sectors. This year’s event is expected to attract more than 6000 industry professionals.

Waste Expo is a free-to-attend conference and expo. Register here.

Related stories:

Waste Expo: Transition from waste to recovery

Waste Expo 2022 agenda launch

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