The Board met on the sidelines of the 2023 Energy from Waste Conference on Tuesday 31 October 2023 at the Sydney Cricket Ground for its fifth meeting of the year. It was terrific to have so many people in Sydney for this great event, with the Board appreciating the opportunity to meet face to face with members from across Australia. 

It was noted that the level of member and industry interaction by WMRR in August – September 2023 was quite exceptional with over 800 face-to-face participants in events and conferences across Australia that WMRR either delivered or co-hosted, this number went to well over 1,000 when we include webinars - demonstrating an extraordinary level of stakeholder engagement and networking opportunities being directly facilitated by the team. The Women in WARR events were noted as a highlight throughout the year being of particular benefit both for those working within the sector and for those outsiders looking to delve further into how our industry works.  

The Board noted that in 2023 WMRR's financial position is solid which reflects the fact that we have hosted the Australian Landfill and Transfer Station conference as well as the current Energy from Waste event during this reporting period.  As such WMRR is able to assist in covering increases in costs and take the opportunity to manage fee increases in 2024, keeping the rise to 4%, which is less than CPI. 

The Board is acutely aware of the current challenges that industry is facing with batteries, and as such battery safety was a significant topic of discussion with the current limited options for disposal, leading to continued incorrect disposal being a major issue for the safety of workers and essential infrastructure. The Board supported the work currently being done by WMRR to address this issue, and urged WMRR to continue to work with B-cycle to expand its scope to include embedded batteries and other problematic battery powered items such as vapes subject to appropriate funding, to provide clear disposal pathways. This work fits are part of the broader push from WMRR for expanded product stewardship to design out problematic materials.  

WMRR has corresponded with all state and the Federal government on this proposal and will continue to advocate for urgent action. It was noted single use batteries are in so many things that are not necessarily the focus of the average consumer when thinking about batteries, such as toys and singing birthday cards.  The Board was keen to see this remain a focus of WMRR.  

It was noted that the Container Deposit Scheme commenced on 1 November 2023 in Victoria with network operators working extremely hard to be prepared for its introduction. The scheme in Queensland also expanded to include wine and spirit bottles in a nationwide first. The Board was hoping for a similar move from the South Australian Government which has been considering this for some time. It is hoped there will an announcement of a successful operator in Tasmania before Christmas.  

The Board welcomed the action so far on PFAS and urged WMRR to keep up the pressure in relation to fast tracking a comprehensive ban on it and other ‘forever chemicals’, as well as continuing to call for the PFAS NEMP 3.0 to gain urgent attention to be finalised. The Board expressed disappointment at the ongoing delay by Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water in publishing the decision on paper and cardboard export regulations, consultation on this occurred well over a year ago and we still do not have a final position.  

To keep up to date with events and webinars, including our end of year functions, please visit the ‘events’ page on our website and don’t hesitate to reach out at any time with feedback, comments or suggestions at [email protected].