WMRR recognises leaders in sustainability

Thursday, 11 July, 2024

WMRR recognises leaders in sustainability

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) has acknowledged the outstanding contributions of those in the sustainability field through its inaugural 2024 ENVIRO Awards.

Celebrating innovation, excellence and leadership in the circular economy, the awards were part of WMRR’s national circular economy conference, ENVIRO.

WMRR Chief Executive Officer Gayle Sloan said the awards identified those people, organisations and projects that exemplify the three circular economy principles, driven by:

  • designing out and eliminating waste and pollution
  • circulating products and materials at their highest value for longer
  • regenerating nature.

“WMRR wanted to amplify and celebrate leaders, organisations and projects that are genuinely using less, maximising resources, mitigating carbon and making lasting change for the community, business and the planet,” Sloan said.

“We thank all who took the time to nominate and apply. The judging panel was impressed by the breadth and calibre of applications both in terms of impact and legacy.”

The three winners of the 2024 ENVIRO Circular Economy Awards are as follows:

2024 ENVIRO Circular Pioneer Award Winner – Greg Welsh

Welsh, the Founder of Winya Indigenous Office Furniture, has a strong track record in making the office furniture and building board sector more sustainable. As Chief Executive Officer of Sebel in the late 2000s, he introduced the first 100% Australian-made recycled plastic chairs, according to WMRR. As a result, almost every Australian school student since would have sat in one of Welsh’s chairs.

Welsh also successfully pushed for the use of recycled material in Laminex and melamine board and established a program to salvage timber from Arnhem Land, which would otherwise have been burnt, for use in lounge suites, at the same time creating a new industry for the local Indigenous population. He is now focused on a project in which soft wiring removed from office strip-outs is tested, certified and resupplied to the fit-out market. Welsh is the only Australian to be awarded by the United Nations for Leadership in Sustainable Development Goals.

2024 ENVIRO Circular Project Award Winner – Wannon Water

Wannon Water, a state-owned water and sewerage provider in South West Victoria, developed a Circular Economy Roadmap and Toolkit after deciding it needed to take a systems approach within its organisation. The project served as a catalyst for regional collaboration and collective action, with a focus on greater innovation, the building of capability and identification of regionally significant projects that meet the principles of a circular economy.

2024 ENVIRO Circular Transformation Award Winner – Reverse Garbage

Reverse Garbage is a self-funded not-for-profit enterprise in its 49th year of operation in Sydney’s Inner West. It runs a creative reuse centre which redirects commercial and industrial waste from landfill to give it a new life. Started by a group of teachers and community workers, education is still a major focus for the organisation, reaching some 11,500 young people in 2022/23 and passing on the ‘choose to reuse’ message. In that same period, it rescued nearly 120,000 tonnes of material from landfill. Reverse Garbage is notable for considering anything for donation as long as it is safe for reuse in some form.

“There are so many brilliant initiatives and people simply getting on with making resources and products last, and using less,” Sloan said. “It was inspiring to see all the great work that is already going on and, through the 2024 ENVIRO Awards, WMRR is grateful to highlight the silent achievers that are truly making a difference every day.

“It has been a very successful start for the ENVIRO Awards, and I am confident they will go from strength to strength.”

Image credit: iStock.com/Warchi

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