Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA), in collaboration with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the City of Sydney, released a new standard for Waste Collection Services in New South Wales.
The standard was officially launched on Tuesday 27 March, at GECA’s Solutions On Waste event at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) SMaRT Centre.
The launch involved hearing from a panel of experts with a Q&A session and concluded with an inspiring talk by Professor Veena Sahajwalla of the UNSW SMaRT Centre. Attendees enjoyed an exclusive tour of UNSW’s Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre (SMaRT) micro-factories. This facility is exploring the cutting-edge of recycling and sustainable material manufacturing, from extracting valuable metals such as gold, iron, silver, copper and platinum from e-waste to creating steel made from waste tyres, and much more!
Why did we need a new standard?
While the collection, processing and disposal of waste in Australia has improved significantly in recent years, some waste is still being poorly managed leading to negative impacts on health, local and global environments and the economy.
The environmental consequences of waste production can be significant and major environmental loads, such as the production and release of methane (CH4) into the atmosphere and landfill leachate that can pollute waterways or stem from waste sent to landfill that could have been reused or recycled.
Increasingly, waste generators and waste collection services acknowledge the risk of poor waste management and are shifting toward best practice waste collection.
GECA was encouraged to develop a standard in order to recognise best practice within the waste industry. Some of the key concerns that have driven this standard include:
• Diversion to landfill;
• Transport of waste to cheaper landfill sites that may not be meeting environmental responsibilities;
• Push towards weight based reporting and, eventually invoicing; and
• Contamination (including the point of contamination and how this is dealt with).
What are the benefits of certification?
The release of this new standard marks an exciting time for the waste industry to commit and demonstrate leadership. GECA aims to reward waste collection companies for implementing best practice waste collection. In turn companies certified under this standard will be rewarded through stronger trusted relationships with their existing clients and the potential for new clients and contracts.
The standard also aims to improve the accuracy and transparency of waste collection data, resulting in improved environmental performance and supporting service providers’ efforts to minimise their environmental impact. In successfully certifying to the standard companies will show:
• Quality service;
• Accuracy of data for reporting (reduce duplication of reporting into other schemes such as NABERS); and
When asked to speak on the relevance of the new standard during the Solutions On Waste launch event, Esther Bailey from the City of Sydney summed it up beautifully:
“If you care about whether your recycling ends up sorted by children in Asia or in a hole in Queensland. If you care that our local waste contractors should be able to generate clean enough waste streams to create innovative business models. If you care about New South Wales having any chance of hitting a meaningful 70% recycling rate by 2021. If you’re committed to doing things better tomorrow than we did yesterday…then you must get behind the GECA standard. For consumers of waste services, it is a trust marque that says these guys get it and GECA will hold them to account. For waste contractors it is a badge of honour and a market differentiator.”
This GECA standard is the first in a suite of waste standards GECA aims to develop in order to promote and reward best practice waste management.
We would like to acknowledge the funding and support for the development of this standard including NSW OEH, City of Sydney and the New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (EPA)- a NSW EPA Waste Less Recycle More Initiative funded from the Waste Levy.