MP for the Northern Beaches, Jason Falinski went live on social media today alongside Hon Trevor Evans MP and Professor Veena Sahajwalla to discuss waste management and plans in the Mackellar region for a segment called ‘Let’s Talk Trash.’
Falinski stated the purpose of the discussion was to open up Q&A between federal and local government representatives with industry leaders, innovators and keen business owners in the Northern Beaches region.
He stated, “in Mackellar we treat rubbish very well, but today we can discuss possible avenues and solutions to treat our waste better.”
Professor Veena Sahajwalla is the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) at UNSW that works with industry, national and international research partners, and governments across Australia, on the development of innovative environmental solutions for the world’s biggest waste challenges.
The SMaRT centre looks at waste at all scales, even at a molecular level to understand how different components react together. This foundational science forms basis of their research, and then they are faced with the task of deploying the science into practice for our communities and society.
She noted how impressed and comforted she is by the Australian Governments involvement in waste management and recycling at a local and national level, and how the goal for Australia is to turn waste into valuable resources by recycling materials and products into tradable commodities.
To bring more material into the economy through waste, Australia needs manufacturers to achieve this, hence, Veena stresses the importance of onshore manufacturing, especially for materials that are renewable or in short supply. The SMaRT Centre works alongside SMEs and larger organisations to test the science and it’s effectiveness as a community practice.
There is no point of Veena and her team gaining the scientific data if the economy cannot easily implement the changes.
Hon Trevor Evans MP is the national elected Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management. He has been tasked with ensuring the federal government is more across recycling and waste management.
Historically, waste management has been controlled by state and territory governments, and even down to local councils. This new government role was a response to offshore exporting bans and poor management systems of waste.
ABC’s War on Waste documentary highlighted issues in national waste streams and required action and intervention from a higher level of government.
MP Evans noted the federals involvement is not to remove power from more local councils, but instead, “create harmonisation, add national leadership and provide an opportunity to add value through co-funding initiatives.”
From where the federal government stands, they acknowledge there is a long road ahead where extensive research and community involvement are crucial to the nations success in creating economic value from waste.
He stressed that it is not a micro-economic reform task, his role is to “create an ecosystem of policies and incentives that empower all the experts of sustainability so they can apply their expertise in areas they know the most about.”
Trash and waste have a long history of finding the cheapest route. When China implemented waste bans, Australia could no longer rely on other countries to deal with our potentially dangerous waste streams.
Veena and MP Evans agreed Australia will work towards sorting and decontaminating these difficult waste streams onshore in Australia before considering other exporting options.
However, instead of turning off the tap to exporting completely, there needs to be practices and legislation in place, agreed upon by industry and government about how different materials and waste streams are processed. These discussions are already taking place under the Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF).