2018 has indeed been a year to remember in many respects. Not least of which is the increased focus on resource management, the mainstreaming of “the circular economy” as a catch phrase and the widening realisation that resource management issues are critical to the sustainability of the ecosystems on which we all depend. According to the Global Footprint Network (2016), current global resource consumption rates are around 160% of the rate considered to be sustainable, and are continuing to rise.
The AIEN is pleased to have remained at the vanguard of all of the relevant debates. A major focus in 2018 has been to articulate a fully principled and fully considered strategy toward moving from an “excess waste/supply push” resource model, to a “demand driven/market pull” resource model, conducive to the emergence of a genuine circular economy. The AIEN will continue as a forthright voice in 2019 in advocating the practical steps required in moving toward this imperative.
The AIEN is proud to have introduced an electronic newsletter “In the Loop” earlier this year and we look forward to using this medium, and others at our disposal, to convey the important role Australia can/will play in the global shift toward sensible and necessary resource management practices.
I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr Garbis Simonian and Dr Robin Branson who retired from active participation effective 22 February 2018. Garbis and Robin have played a critical role in the development and success of the organisation, and I thank them for all their tireless work over the years.
Chairman, Australian Industrial Ecology Network
2018 has kept us extremely busy with several government consultations to respond to. On behalf of its members, AIEN put forward the following submissions (click on the link to download the document):
- SA Enhancing Resource Recovery and Discussing the Place of Energy Recovery
Paper (Jan 2018)
- Western Australian Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy
Paper (Mar 2018)
- VIC Turning Waste into Energy Discussion Paper (Mar 2018)
- Review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 (Jun 2018)
- Transforming Queensland’s Recycling and Waste Industry Directions Paper (Jun 2018)
- Updating the 2009 National Waste Policy: Less waste, more resources (Oct 2018)
- NSW Circular Economy Policy and Discussion Statement: Too Good to Waste (Nov 2018)
- Waste to Energy (WtE) in the ACT Information Paper (Dec 2018)
During the year, AIEN issued the following media releases:
- AIEN calls for unity in solving Australia’s waste issue (22 Nov 2018)
- AIEN accelerates transition to an Australian circular economy (29 Oct 2018)
In October, the AIEN also published the communique:
Accelerating the Transition to a Circular Economy: A blueprint for action on plastics and packaging.
This document calls for a shift in existing resource management frameworks and policies to encourage manufacturers, distributors, importers and others closely involved with the waste and resource management sector to accept “waste” as a valuable resource in higher value-added product markets rather than, a negative value problematic substance destined for landfill.
Australian Waste to Energy Forum 2018
19 – 22 February 2018, Mercure Ballarat
The third annual Waste to Energy Forum built upon the successes of the previous forums in 2016 and 2017 attracting 231 participants from across the country and overseas.
The feedback received was overwhelmingly positive with respect to the quality of the presentations and the networking opportunities afforded. Most pleasing of all was the clear maturation of the debate that has occurred between those clearly promoting Waste to Energy (WtE) in the Australian context and those holding/retaining reservations regarding the appropriate definition of residual materials, preservation of high calorific value resources for higher value use in the future, public health impacts, environmental impacts, etc.
Over the three years of hosting this WtE forum, success has been predicated upon the principle of allowing all parties to participate in open discussion. The AIEN is observing greatly increased alignment in the positions of all stakeholders with respect to the appropriate deployment of the various WtE technologies available.
Australian Industrial Ecology Conference
19 – 21 September 2018, Rydges Parramatta
This year’s conference theme – Connecting manufacturers, recyclers and consumers – was designed to create a dialogue amongst all stakeholders in the materials supply chain, showcase and promote industrial ecology projects and inspire further innovation in Australia.
The conference featured an outstanding series of sessions, speakers, discussions, together with very entertaining social events. There were many opportunities for professional development, networking with colleagues, to share ideas and discuss contentious issues.
A key outcome of the conference was the development of the AIEN Communique, Accelerating the Transition to a Circular Economy: A blueprint for action on plastics and packaging (please see publications and submissions above).