The WMRR Board met for the second time this year on 30 April 2024 ahead of the Victorian Waste and Resource Recovery (WARR) Forum at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

As always, the meeting started with an acknowledgement of country and a safety observation.  One Director noted that they had seen a considerable increase in the number of large gas cylinders making their way into MRFs - obviously these pose a significant risk to life and infrastructure. The Board noted the continued frustration to find homes for problematic product like this (and batteries) and the possible confusion in the community between reuseable and recyclable items.  

The Board noted that the waste paper and cardboard export rules  were released on Monday 29 April 2024, and was shortly expecting advice as to when applications would be able to be lodged (subsequent to the Board we understand that the anticipated date of lodgement commencing is Monday 6 May 2024 via the WELD portal).  The Board expressed concern that there is not enough time to process applications, as based on previous experience this has taken several months to complete and work its way through the system.  It was noted that the Rules address this by providing until October 2024 to gain a licence. However, industry does not have any clarity of whether fees or costs associated with this process will occur as of 1 July 2024, which is placing undue stress and concern on both industry and local government given budgets will be finalised for 2024-25.  WMRR continues to be advised that this is part of budget considerations so we may gain clarity in or just prior to the Budget on Tuesday 14 May 2024. 

It was noted also that the Senate Inquiry into Waste Reductions and Recycling Policies will be looking specifically at the issue of the Export Regulations at its hearing on 8 May 2024 in Sydney, where the CEO will present along with a number of other WMRR directors in their capacity as senior company representatives. 
The Board was updated on the asbestos situation in NSW with the Government’s new laws now in force which include greater penalties and enforcement powers for the EPA. It was also noted that the company at the centre of issue had been granted permission to resume operations by EPA albeit under strict conditions. 

The Board noted the release of the Federal Government’s Environmentally Sustainable Procurement Policy and Reporting Framework, which is a positive initiative to highlight use of recycled material, however it is not as strong a policy or approach as ecologiQ and the Victorian Recycled First Policy, the lack of consultation on this is disappointing.  However, industry has an opportunity to comment on the Circular Economy Ministerial Advisory Committee interim report released release and would encourage members to review and comment..

The financial update was positive with Membership renewal income ahead of budget. Victorian WARR Forum has passed 100 attendees and continues to grow as a must-attend event. There has also been considerable interest in June’s ENVIRO Conference in Brisbane with some keynote speakers already announced. The new Tasmanian Minister for Parks and Environment The Hon Nick Duigan MLC has been confirmed as opening WMRR’s Tasmanian WARR Forum on 23 May 2024 in his first major address to the industry since his appointment. 

Following the Board’s review of the WMRR Strategic Plan, it adopted an updated set of guiding principles and priority advocacy areas to reflect recent developments in the industry and evolving areas of focus. It places an emphasis on circular economy principles, mitigating carbon impacts and increased use of high value secondary raw materials across Australia. 

The Board next meets on Tuesday 25 June 2024.