Gayle Sloan

Plastics just the tip of the iceberg

This year really has started with a bang (and not exactly a good one). I moved from discussing the risks that batteries pose, to another battery-related fire in a facility (or truck), to constantly being in dialogue with governments about the risk that incorrect classification and chemicals present on the sector’s ability to make safe recovered products.   Read More

The link between waste and climate change

As I sit here in Far North Queensland and marvel at how well it has been cleaned up Cyclone Jasper (well done Cairns Regional Council and all those involved from the Queensland Government – and yes, as requested, I did not cancel my plans!) and we read about the floods in Victoria, storms in South East Queensland and severe bushfires in Western Australia (please all stay safe), I can’t help but wonder when we really will move to take the impact of climate change seriously in Australia. Read More

Voluntary targets just don’t work

As I sat at my computer to write this column, I started by looking back at my final piece for 2022. I outlined three major challenges and hopes for 2023. One was a nationally agreed definition of waste. Two was real demand for our recyclate and material. And three, was a plea/hope we’d see some leadership from our policymakers.   Read More
WMRR Gayle sloan

When are we going to get a national framework on the circular economy?

There is a lot of talk of creating a circular economy in Australia by 2030. Just like the export bans in 2019, this ‘target’ seems to be sneaking in and taking over Federal government language and possibly thinking, but what does that mean and how are we going to get there? And unlike the export bans, how do we make them both meaningful and effective? We need a national framework. Read More

Integrated, systems-based approach required for zero waste

Australia must maximise the life span of resources and recover as much as possible for as long as possible, for many good reasons (including job creation, carbon mitigation and when we finally grasp that recycled/ secondary raw material really is as good as virgin – planet protection).  However, I cannot help but feel that in the calls for ‘zero’ waste and creating a ‘circular economy’, we sometimes lose sight and knowledge of the essential role that our industry and facilities play in making this happen; particularly when one considers that while a ‘zero waste’, resource efficient society is desirable, it is not instantly achievable – and query if it is at all when we consider impact of natural disasters for example.   Read More
Infrastructure crises, Gayle sloan

Bad planning leads to ongoing crises

“We need a plan that pre-empts crises rather than repeatedly running into them”. Wise words from Minette Batter, President of the National Farmers Union, in her 2022 speech to their annual conference about the state of farming. The sentiments apply equally to our sector; how many ‘crises’ do we need to finally get it?  Since 2019, we have faced crisis after crisis, from China’s National Sword policy to bushfires and floods, and the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw government spring to action. However have we really achieved anything of note? Read More
2023 wate expo

2023 could be turning point for waste industry

With 2023 upon us, I am optimistic that this year will be our essential industry’s year. Surely 2023 will be the year that “it will get real” for industry, business, government, and the community if we are serious about meeting Australia’s 2030 targets of 43 per cent reduction of carbon emissions and the 80 per cent average recovery of materials. 2022 was good but 2023 must be better as we have both time and behaviour against us.  Read More

Changing the course to bring prosperity

The year 2022 has brought about a change in government and will quite possibly bring about a positive shift in approach to our sector. It is hoped that this shift is the result of growing knowledge and understanding of the complexity and importance of the waste sector following many difficult years, so that we can move on from simply thinking convenience is paramount. We need to stop approaching WARR as the final recipient of the buck, where our sector is viewed as the fixer and funder of end-of-life materials and move towards shared responsibility and integrated planning. This must be coupled with appropriate levels of funding and policy if we are determined to achieve our shared goal of a thriving people, planet, prosperity.  Read More