Opinion

Coffs Waste 2022 – the highlights

The 2022 Coffs Waste Conference has come and gone and with everyone back at the office, we managed to have a quick debrief. What everyone agreed on was that it was great to physically be back in a room with all our peers.

MRA sponsored the Juice Bar and was also well represented in the speakers front. Mike Ritchie took advantage of the full house to give a presentation on why he thinks it is difficult for NSW and the nation to hit the 80 per cent diversion target. Namely, that levy increases, FOGO mandates and infrastructure development, among other things, are progressing too slowly. To achieve the target, Australia needs to double the rate of growth in recycling or grow annual recycling rates by 18 million tonnes.

Ritchie followed up his argument with a request to the new NSW minister for the Environment and Heritage James Griffin, to work with Trevor Evans, the federal minister, to develop an annual statement on how each State is travelling toward the target. This should include the maths on which streams will be diverted, what services, regulations and infrastructure are required for each state to achieve the target.

Such an initiative would provide guidance to industry and councils on the trajectory of reform and unlock billions of dollars in investment in new infrastructure and jobs. The minister agreed to take it up at the MEM (Meeting of the Environment Ministers) stating that the more transparency and guidance that could be provided, the better.

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Mike also presented on Disaster waste management, Ron Wainberg provided an Outlook for EfW and Cara Watters participated in a seminar on the Cost-benefit of caddy liners for councils.

The lucky ones that attended the seminar also had to share the knowledge. So without further ado, here are everyone’s conference highlights:

Mike Ritchie

  1. Minister James Griffin MP’ s commitment to develop and release the maths on how targets will be achieved.
  2. Disaster waste – hearing that the NSW Government will prepare a toolkit to assist Local Government to prepare disaster waste plans.
  3. Sea level rise – hearing that the NSW Government is reviewing disaster planning including the 1 in 100 flood line to reduce exposure to future climate change impacts.

Cara Watters

  1. NSW EPA announcement of additional FOGO support for councils through funding and resources.
  2. Further clarity around FOGO mandate exemptions (only households with a current service, potential exemption for rural properties and privately serviced MUDs).
  3. Cara hopes that this will mean councils are a little less cautious when it comes to FOGO rollout, in particular encouraging earlier implementation.

Katherine Dodd

  1. Hon James Griffin MP’s remarks about EfW – “Legitimate and needed” however we are “missing the social Licence”. Further awareness of the technology and education is needed.
  2. Grants for councils to assist with the transition to FOGO will be announced this month.
  3. It was really exciting to see the diversity of delegate attendees which I haven’t seen in previous years, including brands and waste generators, investors, international technology suppliers looking to invest in Australia and local and state government from across Australia, particularly outside of NSW.
  4. The conference had an inspiring focus on implementation and growth opportunities for the Circular Economy, on future infrastructure (gaps, policy settings and opportunities), collaboration across traditional competitors with a common goal to create a more sustainable economy and address Climate Change.

Rebecca Larkin

  1. MRA’s Juice Bar offered an excellent opportunity to meet the delegates.
  2. The conference provided a really diverse range of focus areas from big picture diversion opportunities, such as organics and EfW, to community and local government initiatives focusing on reducing consumption and waste generation before it gets to the bin. For example, initiatives helping individuals make the switch to reusable products and repairing items.
  3. Overall, it was clear that more needs to be done regarding rules for manufacturers, circular design and procurement.

Dimitris Dimoliatis is a principal consultant at MRA Consulting Group.

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