Waste management facilities are not the same as shopping centres

The Federal government is to be congratulated for overhauling procurement rules to require recycled content in new building and civil works.

The imminent ban on exports of recyclables is going to turn the market on its head. We need to urgently expand markets and build new processing facilities in Australia or we could drown in 1.3 million tonnes (MT) of recyclables that we previously exported.

MRA has estimated that we need to build at least 100 new pieces of kit to meet the existing State Government waste targets and process the new 1.3 MT of exported materials. Industry is keen to invest and there is plenty of superannuation money looking for a secure home right now.

With the stage set, all that remains is getting the kit approved and built. How hard can it be?
Quite hard… And time consuming… And expensive…
So here are a few pointers from a waste planning consultant, for proponents:

1. Choose your site carefully
Sites located too close to people, water or other special places require in-depth assessment (environmental impact statement; EIS). And ensure the zoning is right – preferably “Industry” zoning, but some other zones work as well.
2. Understand Thresholds
EPA and Council Thresholds (t/yr) determine planning and licensing requirements. They should be used to define short term and long term goals for the project and options for future expansion.
3. Be practical in scale
Be aware that the more tonnes through a facility, the greater the requirement for environmental controls from the regulators. So be realistic about how big you need it. There are pros and cons of going big early vs late.
4. Prepare a professional planning application
Waste facilities have the potential to locally pollute the environment (even though they ultimately contribute to a cleaner and better world).
A good application will provide a robust assessment of everything from stormwater to truck movements to waste classification and stockpiling of materials. Providing information up front results in quicker assessment timeframes with less wrinkles to be ironed out and happier regulators.
5. Use a waste planner not a town planner
A professional planning application requires a good understanding of the business of waste. Most general planning companies do not understand waste. That means waste supply, market demand, Government policy, recycling, offtake agreements, social licence, environmental footprint and diversion targets etc. These are critical to your application but don’t generally apply to housing or shopping centre applications. The regulators want to know in much more detail about the role and function of the facility in a broader policy context. So recommending a waste planner may sound self-serving but it nonetheless, makes a difference.
MRA often sees rejected proposals done by non-waste town planners. It is good for our business but a waste of your money. Get it right the first time. It may mean slowing down a bit at the start to get the context right, but better that than being interminably stuck in planning revisions, appeals, the Courts or ultimately a refusal.

Esther Hughes is a principal environmental planner at MRA Consulting Group.

Industry leader gives shout out to essential contractors

On the day that Google honoured all cleaning workers globally on its  Google Doodles, the Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA) executive director Tony Khoury, has praised the association’s members who are waste collection contractors.  Khoury described them as both resourceful and operational, saying that this will ensure that the essential work is still performed.

“The issues surrounding COVID-19 have had a major impact across the community. In these tough and uncertain times, the workers and contractors that collect waste and recyclables continue to perform their work albeit in difficult circumstances,” he said.

According to Khoury, the feedback from WCRA’s Members, is that many commercial waste accounts are either on hold, requesting a reduced service or are looking to cancel.

He noted that some members have also highlighted the difficulties associated with having staff work from home.

“Like many businesses at the moment, IT systems are struggling to cope and the problems that were previously solved with a simple office chat and a cup of coffee, are just a little more difficult to resolve,” he said.

Government assistance welcomed

However, he welcomed the initiative by the Federal Government to increase the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 until 30 June 2020.

“Any waste and recycling contractor that requires a piece of equipment and is in a position to bring forward a purchase decision can do so and obtain instant tax relief,” he added.


Waste industry strengthens as nation under pressure

Inside Waste has continued to strengthen over the past year with pageviews and readership showing sustained growth. This places us in a sound position to support the industry as it negotiates an adapted environment.

In response to the profound changes caused by COVID-19, the national waste industry has stepped up its communications and advocacy to government to ensure that recent commitments made at COAG stay on track and association members remain informed during a time of disruption.

Leading associations such as Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), National Waste & Recycling Industry Council of NSW (NWRIC) and Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WRC) have made specific calls to state governments and authorities to make cash injections and debt guarantees, as well as waive levies and taxes that are applicable to the WARR industry.

Focused communications

From this week, WMRR will send a custom weekly newsletter to members to keep them abreast of the specific impacts of the virus on their businesses.

“Now more than ever, we must remain connected, work together, and share knowledge that will both sustain and support our industry and its people,” WMRR CEO, Gayle Sloan said.
Meanwhile, WCRA has called on Sydney Water to guarantee that they will reimburse licensed waste transporters for any bad debts that are incurred.

WCRA executive director Tony Khoury said that the association will continue to keep the industry informed about COVID-19 related matters as they continue to develop.

“WCRA will also continue to lobby for waste services to be treated as essential,” he advised.

Inside Waste, along with other titles within the Prime Creative Media stable, remains committed to bringing the strongest news to our core readers as they navigate new community and business terrains. Our newsletters are continuing as usual and daily updates to the website and social media. If there are any specific articles or news you would like us to cover in insidewaste.com.au please let me know at claire.moffat@primecreativemedia.com.au.