After consulting with its members, the board and state branch presidents met on March 31 to determine the principles that will guide WMAA's advocacy and policy development activities, such as meetings with Ministers or heads of agencies, commenting on government policies, and developing policy positions.
Identified priority areas for advocacy and engagement will guide the work of the national office, divisions, state branches and associated working groups. This will ensure that WMAA has a clear united voice when engaging with governments and other stakeholders. Clear messaging will also assist the association in collaborating with other national and state-based associations when advocating on common policy issues.
State branches are currently planning their key initiatives for advocacy and action in line with these priority areas, and members are encouraged to get involved.
WMAA said a strong strategic direction and policy framework will also reinforce its position as the peak body that leads the success of the waste and resource recovery sector, remaining the first point of call by governments for involvement in consultation.
WMAA supports growing focus on waste
Waste generation has been in the spotlight of late, a development that WMAA is supportive of.
Between 1996 and 2015, Australia's population rose by 28%. Yet waste generation increased by 170%. Whilst recycling is increasing to approximately 63% of all the waste generated, WMAA says the nation's efforts are not keeping up, with Australia still ranked as one of the highest waste producing nations.
"We all need to rethink what and how we consume, as well as what we produce. As a nation, we need to move away from the outdated linear approach of ‘take, make, waste', towards circular thinking of recycle, recover and remanufacture - where waste is actually a resource", WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan said.
"Our industry is at the forefront of investing in recovering resources from waste. This reduces our reliance on virgin materials, saves greenhouse gases and creates jobs in the reprocessing sector. So when you decide to ‘buy recycled' you help close the loop. We are committed to the waste hierarchy and we see landfill as only being the last resort.
WMAA said it is supportive of initiatives such as the Australian Packaging Covenant that aims to change the culture of business to design more sustainable packaging.
The Covenant has more than 900 organisations as signatories and has contributed to an increase in post-consumer packaging recycling from 39% in 2003 to 61% in 2015.
"It is encouraging to see that waste generation and resource recovery is not only beginning to gain greater traction in the political domain, but also in the community," Sloan said.
"We are excited by the discussions taking place - not only at state and federal government levels regarding policy development, such as container deposit schemes and product stewardship, but also in the media and at the grassroots level. Thanks to programs like ABC's upcoming War on Waste, Australians are becoming better educated about waste and recovery, and are more aware of the amount of waste they generate annually. Their attitudes and habits towards waste and recycling are changing."