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NSW EPA re-assures industry that it will raise engagement

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has appointed Nancy Chang to head up the new EPA Regulatory Practice and Advice section within the organisation. She previously held the position of director regulatory strategy and performance within the NSW Department of Education.

In her role as EPA executive director regulatory practice, Chung said that she is focused on translating the NSW government’s 20-year waste strategy into operational themes. She addressed members of the Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association (WCRA) attending a breakfast briefing in Sydney this week, aimed at reviewing key issues facing the industry.

After listening to a series of updates from Anne Prince, APC Consulting; David Clancy, Cleanaway; Brent Lawson, Concrete Recyclers; and Ros Dent, Bingo, who all called for a stronger and functional relationship with the EPA, Chung acknowledged that they had been heard.

“I have a clear remit to re-invigorate industry engagement,” she said.

This was underlined by NSW EPA chair, Carolyn Walsh who said that the EPA will organise to meet with the industry before the deadline for submissions on the 20-year waste strategy on May 8.

WCRA executive director, Tony Khoury welcomed the prospect of stronger engagement with the EPA following his opening statement at the breakfast.

“Businesses are looking for answers, I have never seen our industry so confused about its future,” he said.

Inside  Waste will be following up with the EPA’s plans regarding industry engagement and the 20-year waste plan.

Caption: Attending the WCRA breakfast briefing were l-r:  Harry Wilson (WCRA president) Anne Prince (APC Consulting) Tony Khoury (WCRA executive director) and Carolyn Walsh (NSW EPA chair).

ANZPAC Plastics Pact expands

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) will lead the development of the ANZPAC Plastic Pact, the latest to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global plastics pact network.

The Pact will launch to the public in late 2020 and will work with businesses, governments and NGOs from across the plastics value chain in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island nations. Its aim is to develop a common vision of the circular economy for plastics.

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Central Coast recycler disputes EPA claim

PAR Recycling Services P/L (PAR) based on the New South Wales Central Coast is disputing a $15,000 fine issued by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The EPA  has said that the business did not follow orders to store chemicals safely to prevent potential pollution reaching local waterways.

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Review into Australia’s recycling standards calls for improved communications and leadership

A Review of standards and specifications for recycled content products released by the Department of Environment and Energy highlights a diverse range of issues. The Review includes details on current documentation for the use of recycled materials in product manufacturing, buildings and infrastructure work.

Equilibrium, an environment and sustainability strategy and management company, prepared the Review and consulted with key stakeholders. The Review found that the absence of any particular standards or specifications may be obstructing the take-up of recycled materials.

Equilibrium researchers said that they communicated with relevant industries and sectors as opposed to specific professional roles and disciplines. Those who gave feedback included professionals and managers across several key disciplines including engineering and applied technology, environment and sustainability, policy procurement, commercial and business development.

The Review stated that key parties haven’t always communicated effectively, with stakeholders being very dispersed. A significant lack of national leadership and harmonisation by government was seen as a major barrier. Slow pace, intangible outcomes and soft targets challenged the industry’s ability to progress the development and uptake of standards.

Stakeholders  felt that the lack of certainty in markets and regulatory environment prevented investment by the waste and recycling industry in facilities that refine recovered materials into raw materials or recyclate. The lack of demand in Australia for manufactured finished product due to the decline of the local manufacturing industry and minimal consumer demand for products using recycled materials along with no regulated requirement were considered significant issues delaying ongoing development of relevant and widely adopted standards and specifications.

A significant barrier identified within the Review was manufacturers having access to cheaper virgin alternatives resulting in them bypassing recyclate.

Meanwhile, peak bodies agreed on some standards and specifications, while individual engineers and professionals were deemed to be typically risk averse and reluctant to immediately embrace the value and potential of recycled content products when price is the only consideration.

Although the stakeholders who were consulted stated that there is a place for mandatory instruments to ensure higher levels of recycled content in products, buildings, and infrastructure, these need to be identified and assessed on their individual merits and performance. The procurement process was also considered a priority and needs to be taken seriously by all potential stakeholders along the entire supply chain.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan expressed her disappointment with the arrival of another review, pointing to a lack of recommendations, timelines, or targets.

However, Sloan added that WMRR was pleased that at least the National Waste Policy Action Plan called repeatedly for standards, specifications and procurement targets to be in place by this year.

“But instead of getting started with the job, industry is now forced to hear that government agencies believe ‘reputational and organisational risk’ are the major hindrances to using recycled content,” she said.

“We need real leadership and willingness to tackle these vital issues. It all starts with design: designing for repair and reuse, design for material minimisation, designing out waste and designing for stewardship. That way we are not dealing with waste but are recognising resources.”

 

Sydney household waste trends revealed in waste audit

The Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) with 11 members councils representing 1.7 million residents holds the most comprehensive longitudinal data set of household consumption and waste disposal behaviour in Australia. The region is characterised by cultural and socio-economic diversity from the inner-city terraces to the leafy suburbs of Sutherland.
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