24-25 Jul 2024

An Industry Bands Together

Jul 21, 2020

At last year’s Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo (AWRE), NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean explained his intentions to bring industry, councils and the wider community back to the waste management decision making table.

Referencing the state’s forthcoming 20-year waste strategy, Kean reiterated the importance of working collaboratively to achieve the best environmental and economic outcomes.

“Major reform is on the table, so I’ve asked my department to engage in frank conversations with community groups, local councils and industry about how we can better deliver outcomes,” he said.

While the 20-year strategy is now underway, Kean’s message resonates in the brave new world of COVID-19.

Minister Matt Kean

Minister Matt Kean speaking at AWRE 2019

Tony Khoury, Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW Executive Director and AWRE industry partner, says there was an initial shock when COVID-19 hit. This was followed, however, by the realisation that waste still needs to be collected.

Khoury adds that the waste and resource recovery industry is extremely resilient, and without missing one bin, waste operators adapted.

“While many people can work from home, our workers are on the front line and have to keep going out and performing their essential service,” he says.

To appropriately manage the situation, WCRA formed a COVID-19 sub-committee to ensure all safety issues were promptly discussed, addressed and the information disseminated across the industry.

“We wanted to make sure that there were half a dozen people that could discuss the issues, so we could be agile and quick in our responses,” Khoury explains.

“The NSW DPIE and EPA also formed a COVID-19 sub-committee, that is still meeting weekly, where they brief us on developments and assistance that the government could provide.”

Khoury points to an informational flyer distributed by the NSW Government as illustrative of its proactive approach to ensuring critical waste services continue.

It’s within this collaboration environment that AWRE returns to the ICC Sydney Darling Harbour in November. As a two-day live experience, AWRE seeks to promote ideas and opportunities for Australia’s waste and recycling community.

AWRE - Exhibition

Melissa Clendinen, AWRE’s new Product Manager, says her team’s continued aim is to provide a platform for the industry to grow, learn and conduct business safely.

“We are working alongside our partners, exhibitors and visitors to shape AWRE 2020 based on the needs and wants of the community,” she says.

Clendinen adds that AWRE are grateful to the waste and resource recovery community for their resilience and continued support during this unprecedented time.

“We are excited to have NWRIC, WCRA and NSW DPIE supporting the show once again and we have some great brands exhibiting, ISUZU Trucks Australia, Steinert, BioBag World, Liebherr Australia and Hitachi Zosen Inova Australia, all set to make 2020 another valuable event for the industry,” she says.

“We look forward to AWRE 2020 providing a forum from which the waste, recycling and resource recovery sector can re-establish ties with each other and continue to drive change.”

Rose Read, NWRIC CEO, says the council is looking forward to working with AWRE to bring together robust, informative and insightful forums, including the AWRE and NWRIC Leadership Breakfast.

AWRE - Leadership Breakfast

“The AWRE brings together suppliers, customers, local councils, governments, businesses and waste and recycling service providers and processors,” she says.

“We see the AWRE as the perfect backdrop to bring together thought leaders from across the supply chain, federal, state and local government to discuss the challenges and formulate solutions to advance the waste and recycling industry nationally.”

Khoury shares similar sentiments, explaining that AWRE provides valuable networking opportunities, both formal and informal.

“It’s an opportunity to meet a broad range of waste industry stakeholders,” he says.

“A lot of our members attend, sponsor and support the event, but it also enables us to interact with interstate parties and other sectors of the industry. You never know who you’re going to meet, and that’s a good thing.”

At AWRE 2020, Khoury expects to hear much discussion of the impacts of COVID-19 on the waste sector, both in the speaker program and on the floor.

More importantly, however, he says the event will provide a much-needed opportunity to discuss the path to recovery. Khoury adds that COAG’s forthcoming export ban will likely be another hot topic at the event.

Characterising AWRE as consistently well planned and organised, Khoury says WCRA have been involved in the event from day one. He adds that WCRA is very proud of its partnership with AWRE.

“I’ll take every opportunity I can to promote our industry and AWRE is a wonderful platform for that,” he says.

“We need to put our best foot forward, so why wouldn’t we get involved with an organisation like AWRE?”

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