Poor planning keeps waste management prices from falling 

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A BETTER approach to Canberra’s waste management planning can reduce the costs of waste and recycling services, drive changes in waste generation performance and lead to new investment in infrastructure and business, according to an audit report presented in the ACT Legislative Assembly today (June 29). 

Auditor-general Michael Harris presented the report, titled “Management of household waste services”, and said: “ACT NoWaste has not implemented effective strategic planning for the management of household waste services.”

“Various strategic planning initiatives are incomplete and have not demonstrated their effectiveness in the management of household waste services. The lack of strategic planning for household waste management services has been compounded by poor risk management processes,” Mr Harris said. 

Since mid-2019, the report notes that ACT NoWaste has taken steps to improve its household waste strategic planning and risk management and is also in the process of developing contract management and administrative arrangements for the management of household waste services.

“However, the strategic planning and risk management initiatives remain at an early stage of implementation and their effectiveness is yet to be demonstrated, while key contract management and administrative improvements are yet to be finalised. ACT NoWaste’s intention to achieve rigour and consistency in decision-making for contract management has not yet been achieved,” according to the report. 

“ACT NoWaste manages a portfolio of 38 waste services agreements on behalf of the ACT community, some of which have been in place for almost a decade and were negotiated at a time when the national and international waste management and resource recovery environment was less complex and less costly.

“More recent ACT NoWaste services agreements incorporate elements of incentives and at-risk fees. The most recent services agreement for the collection and processing of garden organics green waste demonstrates a better, more contemporary approach to setting service delivery levels and improved service delivery.” 

Mr Harris said: “A challenge for ACT NoWaste is to have flexible services agreements that are relatively adaptable but enduring and offer value for money into the future.” 

The audit report made six recommendations for improvement, including recommendations aimed at improving strategic planning, risk management and contract management processes. 

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