The major waste companies in Australia have established the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC). Self named and proclaimed as a "Council" rather than a group or perhaps a lobby group, the NWRIC will provide a national voice and advocate for the industry.
The conditions of entry are simple, you must be a waste company and have a national presence, taken to mean operating in at least three states. The creation of the NWRIC is akin to circling the wagons, in the face of increasing public intrigue into exactly what happens to the waste and recycling that is picked up from our homes and businesses.
When asked at a recent waste conference about whether a company could ever be expelled from the council if they were found to be operating fraudulently, Max Spedding of the NWRIC replied that no, companies would not be expelled. So the NWRIC is the advocate for the industry warts and all.
One of the founding member companies to the NWRIC is JJ Richards who are currently under investigation by the ACCC for contract terms that are illegal. The company is accused of imposing contractual conditions designed to "cause harm to small businesses" - their customers! Let's hope the AWRIC can advocate for JJ Richards to continue causing harm to their customers.
The Australian waste industry is thought to be around five years behind the industry in America. In America, waste companies are called "haulers", which is what they are and what they do. In Australia we call haulers waste companies and look to them for leadership to drive the industry toward sustainability and efficiency. We are looking in the wrong place and we need to see the waste companies for what they are, "haulers", and the NWRIC for what it is, which is a self proclaimed council aiming to slow progress and keep the industry as profitable and traditional as possible.
Profit is a thing to be admired, success in a business to provide a service and be paid well for it. But to profit from causing harm to your customers is hardly admirable and the long term viability of several NWRIC members looks bleak.
Thanks to recent media the public are becoming more attuned to how the industry operates which is a good thing. Rather than green slogans on a truck the haulers may now need to back it up with real sustainability and customer service.