2018 Media Releases
Decision by Ipswich Council to Landfill Recyclables

18 April 2018

“The decision announced today by the Mayor of Ipswich that Ipswich City Council to landfill recyclables is extremely disappointing and completely out of step with community expectations”, said Gayle Sloan, CEO of WMAA, which is the peak industry body representing Australia’s waste and resource recovery sector.

“The community expects and trusts government and industry to manage this essential service responsibly. This is an issue that goes beyond cost to value, including the ability to create jobs and manage adverse environmental impacts by the continued use of virgin material, when there are renewable alternatives. The people of Ipswich are not sorting their recyclable materials into a different bin, just so that Council can send it to the same place as their waste.”

Any Council that makes such a decision really should be mindful of the trust the community puts in government and industry to manage this service in a responsible manner; the community is seeking us to deliver more sustainable solutions, not to go backwards by sending recyclable material to landfill,” Ms Sloan added.

The China National Sword has impacted about 1million tonnes of recyclable commodities each year from Australia. WMAA believes this is an opportunity for Australia to invest in significant remanufacturing capacity for these products.

The Queensland Government has signalled that it supports the development of investment in new waste and resource infrastructure with the development of a new waste and resource recovery strategy, underpinned by a waste levy.

“The lack of such a policy and a levy has left Queensland as one of the worst recyclers in Australia, with low recycling rates and lower investment in industry. It also means that unlike other States there is no levy funds available to assist Councils to transition through this changing time.

What is needed at a time like this is leadership and partnership between industry and all levels of government create jobs and investment in resource recovery infrastructure. The impact on households is estimated at $1 per week; however the opportunity that it presents for jobs and investment far outweighs this.

“We understand that Council took this decision in isolation of broader industry and Government, failing to try and work with others to solve this issue and demonstrate real leadership at this challenging time,” said Ms Sloan. “The solution is not land-filling!”

“We know that by recovering resources and recycling we can create almost one job for every tonne, compared with 0.2 jobs if we landfill. Ipswich is not only wasting resources but wasting the opportunity to create jobs.

It is correct that the recycling industry is under pressure and Australia needs to act now to ensure that the Circular Economy is real, which means consumers, industry, government and generators of waste starting to work together and think a bit differently to use recycled material in as many products as possible that we make here. Ipswich Council should show leadership in developing a long term sustainable solution and not simply reacting is isolation out of step with community and the rest of Australia.

At all levels of Government, including National, we need to put policies in place that support the development of sustainable secondary markets for recycled materials.

“The broader community, especially those affected in Ipswich, can send a clear and loud message to their local council that this action is out of step with their expectations,” said Ms Sloan. “They can do this by continuing to do the right thing and separate their waste rather than give up and accept that it will all be sent to landfill.”

For Media Enquiries - Nick Bensley: 02 8746 5011

WMAA, ACOR call for inaugural Australian Circular Economy & Recycling Action Plan

4 April 2018

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) and the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) have come together for the betterment of the entire waste and resource recovery industry to call on all Ministers, ahead of the Ministerial Council this month, to work with industry in the development, and urgent implementation of the inaugural Australian Circular Economy & Recylcing Action Plan.

“It is absolutely the case that the industry’s future direction is at an important crossroads, with an opportunity to grow more Australian-based manufacturing jobs, and actively build on the 20 years’ worth of environmental gains in Australia, howevere a concerted effort at this critical point in time is required by all,” said Ms Gayle Sloan, WMAA CEO.

The Action Plan is needed to build on respective State Governments’ shorter-term actions to date to maintain the community’s confidence in recycling services under the current unprecedented circumstances brought about by China’s National Sword legislation.

WMAA and ACOR are advocating to the Federal Environment and Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg MP, and his State collegues to work with industry to pivot toward this new strategic direction to decouple the Australian recycling and resource recovery industry from global markets.

“A $150 million national Action Plan would enable the 'three I's' that are needed to re-boot recycling and kick-start the circular economy. Investment in infrastructure and new markets; improvement of recyclate material quality and recycling contracts, and; innovation in positive purchasing of recycled content products by governments. We need the Meeting of Environment Ministers in later April to decisively act with leadership,” said Mr Peter Shmigel, ACOR CEO. “It is time to transform the recycling and resource recovery industry so it can help transform our economy to a more competitive, sustainable and circular model that makes the best use of as many resources, including human resources as possible in Australia.”

WMAA and ACOR have developed a list of priority actions that are required to address this issue in the short term, and in the longer term to achieve the structural changes required.

“WMAA and ACOR have a united industry position on this important topic, and are committed to working with government to ensure the success of the Australian Circular Economy & Recycling Action Plan,” said Ms Sloan.

For Media Enquiries - Nick Bensley: 02 8746 5011

Waste industry welcomes Queensland introduction of Landfill Levy

20 March 2018

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) today welcomes the Queensland Palaszczuk’s Government announcment of a reintroduction to state wide landfill levy.

The Queensland government has answered the industry and public’s call for action due to a a small number of waste industry operators continuing to use irresponsible and dangerous practices including transportation of waste over many hundreds of kilometres to avoid paying landfill levies and gain a commercial advantage.

WMAA, Australia’s peak national body for the waste and resource recovery industry, began calling on members, operators and stakeholders in the sector to sign a Waste of Origin Pledge in order for the industry to further the conversation with Government.

“The ultimate goal of WMAA is to achieve sustainable and environmentally sensitive waste management across the entire industry,” said CEO Gayle Sloan. “And to ensure a level playing field for all organisations, and for the betterment of the services provided to the public.”

WMAA was the only waste and resource recovery association that actively called on the Queensland state governement ahead of this announcement, and is continuing to work nationally with all state governements to achieve a national harmonised approach to waste and resource recovery management, to both ensure a level playing field for operators and ensure that this service is provided to the public in a professional and safe manner.

“We want to see waste managed in accordance with the heirachy and as close as possible to where it was produced; this is a real opportunity to create local jobs and investment in this essential sector,” said CEO Gayle Sloan. “Transportation of waste over long distances just to avoid levies is irresponsible, dangerous and environmentally damaging.”

It is time for the States and the Commonwealth to work together with industry to create a circular economy within Australia by encouraging reduction, reuse, recycling, and manufacturing. The last piece of the puzzle is a harmonised approach to create a circular economy in Australia, wherein we can develop onshore local markets and create local employment (for every 10,000 tonnes of waste recycled, more than 9.2 jobs are created).

For Media Enquiries - Nick Bensley: 02 8746 5011

WMAA's Response to Impact of China's National Sword

15 March 2018

On Wednesday, WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan spoke to a NSW Senate inquiry into the waste and recycling industry..

During this inquiry and in subsequent correspondence provided to all Ministers and Shadow Minsters around the country, WMAA has made it clear that it is calling for government at all levels to work with industry in finding immediate and sustainable solutions to respond to China’s National Sword initiative. Australia needs to act now to ensure that the circular economy is realised, which means product manufacturers, consumers, industry, government and generators of waste must start to work together and think differently to use recycled material in all products that we make in Australia.

WMAA strongly believes that the waste and resource recovery industry is an essential industry for the community, the economy and the environment, however it would be fair to say that it has been failing to receive the recognition and support that it should from the Federal government in recent times.

Too often of late we have heard that waste “is a matter for the states”, however whilst they have a key and important role, the Federal government also has a role to play, and cannot continue to avoid this. The Federal Government is responsible for national legislation, strategies and policy frameworks for waste to give effect to obligations under international agreements.

The role of the Commonwealth must be to provide clear and consistent vision in accord with these international obligations and national interests, whist the States and territory governments are then responsible for implementing and regulating these policies, manage waste, and influence behaviours in accordance with legislation, policies and programs.

Australia has had a National Waste Policy which was adopted in November 2009, which we are afraid has had very little attention from the Commonwealth of late, resulting in a lack of both clear vision and cooperation between Commonwealth and State. Coupled with the diverse state policies that apply to this sector, it means that opportunities to create jobs and investment in the waste and resource recovery sector, as well as provide additional renewable capacity to contribute to energy production, for example is being severely hampered by government.

The recent policy changes in China has only served to highlight the problems the sector faces, with the lack of a common approach to industry and lack of national unity and leadership adding to industries challenges at this time. If for example the National Waste Strategy had genuinely and significantly progressed even two of the sixteen Priority Strategies, being sustainable procurement and improved packaging management in the last eight years Australia may have been well progressed in creating secondary markets and a Circular Economy in Australia, like the EU and like China, and not have the continued reliance on global trading markets such as China for Australian commodities.

WMAA submits that Australia is being left behind the rest of the developed world, in transitioning to the circular economy, and utilizing waste commodities as a resource. With the effective closure of China as a market for Australia’s waste commodities, it is vital that the Australian government work with industry to create a circular economy in Australia, developing onshore local markets.

WMAA seeks national action by the Federal Government to support the circular economy transition, by

  • Supporting the local management of waste as close as possible to its generation, by urgently acting to harmonise state regulation to create a level playing field for industry and address the unnecessary movement of waste between states for the sole purpose of avoiding landfill levies;
  • Implementing the National Waste Policy: Less waste, more resources, key strategies, prioritising the sustainable procurement of recycled content in all levels government supply chain and government procurement; and
  • Requiring producers of new products (including packaging) to have met recyclability and recoverability requirements that have a clear commercial pathway for movement of materials back into the economy.

To see a copy of the correspondence sent to Ministers please click here

For Media Enquiries - Nick Bensley: 02 8746 5011