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Cleanaway CEO & Managing Director Vik Bansal writes about the current state of the Australian waste management industry, our Footprint 2025, and how our infrastructure continues to support our communities while improving resource recovery.
Who would have thought a couple of years ago that waste would become such a topical issue in society? Industry players have always understood the power of proper waste management and its influence for any society to ever achieve its sustainability goals.
So, it is nice to welcome the conversations about waste management within the right framework.
The multi-billion-dollar Australian waste management industry now employs more than 50,000 Australians and, in the years between 2013 and 2023, the industry is expected to grow faster than Australia’s GDP forecast of 2.6%.
‘Sustainability’ is no longer the realm of niche ‘green’ businesses or a ‘nice-to-have’ for large businesses.
Sustainability is now something that consumers expect and it is becoming an integral part of any company’s long-term strategy. Providing services that help companies achieve their sustainability goals is crucial to the success of any waste management company.
Sustainability planning is now standard business practice for many Australian companies. In fact, 72% of individual investors believe a company benefits when it pursues sustainability objectives and ASX requirements now mean companies need to disclose social and environmental risk, as well as financial risk – the triple bottom line.
It is not only the ASX listed companies focusing on sustainability, with 86% of Australian SMEs now identifying ethical and sustainable business practices as key to future success, believing that focusing on these practices will result in company growth and profitability.
The public is a key player in driving demand for sustainable outcomes, especially younger generations. People under 40 expect companies to give back and invest in improving the community and society. This group is in fact three times more likely to actively seek out employment with a company because of its stance on social and/or environmental issues, and twice as likely to check product packaging to ensure its sustainability.
Big or small, the focus on better environmental and waste outcomes is crucial to a company’s competitiveness.
Cleanaway’s focus on treating all waste as a resource goes right to the heart of what sustainability means. As Australia’s largest waste management company, we have the scope to provide customised solutions that allow businesses to reach their sustainability goals.
While Australian businesses and the community are both on board with sustainability, there are still many challenges to deal with in waste management. Australians are among the world’s largest producers of waste and although we are enthusiastic recyclers, we need to do more to improve the quality of our recycling.
Planning for a bigger Australia and the increased demand for services is the focus of Cleanaway’s Footprint 2025 strategy. Footprint 2025 is designed to tackle future challenges brought about by bigger populations and more waste. Resource recovery is integral to our Footprint 2025 vision – and the recent acquisition of Toxfree and Daniel’s Health has created the largest waste management company across the Asia Pacific, enabling an even greater capacity for Cleanaway to manage all waste streams.
Waste management is an essential service and will always be important for both the protection of the environment, and the health and safety of our community. However, it’s the proper management of waste through resource recovery that is going to be our next important step, if we are to make a sustainable future truly possible for Australia – and that’s something we can’t do on our own.
All levels of government will have to become more engaged, and provide certainty of policy framework and consistency across the nation. It will take a collaborative effort between the community, business, industry and government if we are to make this circular economy a reality.