Waste industry calls on members and stakeholders to sign "Waste of Origin" pledge

-Three of Australia's leading players sign 'the Pledge'
-Dangerous practices must be driven out of the industry
-Call for Government, State and Federal, to harmonise laws

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) today launches the 'Waste of Origin' Pledge, to challenge the industry to join the fight against irresponsible, dangerous and environmentally damaging practices in the sector.

Australia's peak national body for the waste and resource recovery industry is calling on members, operators and stakeholders in the sector to sign a Waste of Origin Pledge.

WMAA is pleased to announce that already two of Australia's most influential companies in the sector, Suez and Remondis, have signed-up and will advocate best practice for the industry, advocating that, in principle, waste should be disposed of as close as possible to the source of its generation.

Unfortunately, a small number of waste industry operators continue to use irresponsible and dangerous practices including transportation of waste over many hundreds of kilometres to avoid paying landfill levies and gain a commercial advantage.

To date this small number of unscrupulous operators have been left unchecked and not held accountable for their actions because they are able to take advantage of regulatory loopholes.They also fail basic, well accepted principles like the waste management hierarchy, which encourages reduction, reuse and recycling, with disposal as a last resort.

"WMAA wishes to achieve sustainable and environmentally sensitive waste management across the entire industry," said CEO Gayle Sloan.

"My members see environmental stewardship and protection as key principles of their businesses.

"The industry is taking the lead on best practice. My members are sick of their reputations being damaged by the actions of the sector's lowest common denominator."

It is time for the States and the Commonwealth to work together to solve this burgeoning issue and to encourage reduction, reuse, recycling, treatment, and disposal only as a last resort.

"We want to see waste managed as close as possible to where it was produced. Transportation of waste over long distances is irresponsible, dangerous and environmentally damaging.

"However industry action alone will be ineffective without harmonised regulation.

"Right now inconsistent State regulation creates a massive incentive for hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste to be transported many hundreds of kilometres. This creates environmental harm and this situation must stop and we once again call on state regulators to support legitimate operators by closing the loopholes that create an uneven playing field," said Ms Sloan.

Signatories to the Waste of Origin Pledge will commit to:

  1. Not transporting waste unnecessarily long distances
  2. Promoting the principles of the Waste Management Hierarchy
  3. Helping our local communities to manage their waste as close as practicable to its place of generation

In 2016, more than 650,000 tonnes of waste was transported to Queensland from New South Wales, as well as between southern states. This interstate waste transportation was undertaken by a few operators with the explicit aim of avoiding paying landfill levies to gain a commercial advantage.

Transportation of waste over many hundreds of kilometres creates: increased heavy vehicle traffic and congestion; additional fuel consumption and increased carbon emissions; increased risk of accidents, waste spillages, contamination and environmental damage.

"Australian businesses and communities are entitled to have confidence that the waste management sector is managing their waste responsibly. Waste operator signatories are pledging responsible waste management, effective immediately, and in advance of any regulatory response from government.

"The pledge is open to all industry participants and stakeholders. We also call on our State, Territory and Federal Governments to work with industry and develop effective action and get sound regulation and enforcement in place to solve this critical environmental problem."

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