Waste Less Recycle More infrastructure grants

The first round of Waste Less Recycle More infrastructure grants came to a close in early March, with consultants and applicants alike breathing a sigh of relief as schedules, cost benefit analyses and application forms were submitted to the Environmental Trust for appraisal.

The opportunities promised by the WLRM package are immense. Traditional waste service providers, local councils, charities and entrepreneurial businesses have all put their hand up to secure capital infrastructure funding.

However MRA Consulting Group (MRA) has also witnessed some private and public enterprises acting cautiously, choosing not to submit an application in the first round of funding. Internal political pressures and labour shortages have been cited as the main reasons for waiting.

Through MRA’s experience assisting a diverse range of clients to prepare applications, we offer the following tips and advice to eligible organisations considering submitting an application in the second round.

Submit an application! For some grant programs, NSW EPA has not received enough applications to spend the allocated funding. The Love Food Hate Waste program is a case in point, as the end of February marked the closing of the 4th round of funding. NSW EPA is open to suggestions and understands that there are innovative projects worthy of funding that may not ‘fit’ within the current grant structure. It is therefore critical to maintain an open dialogue and to flag your project with NSW EPA. NSW EPA has committed to conducting a review of the grant program before the release of the second round, which may result in relaxed or modified guidelines, or the release of new grant programs to accommodate unique projects.

Take advantage of the Business Case Advisory Services offered to some applicants. These resources offer an invaluable service to applicants, with advice ranging from compliance with Treasury Guideline for cost benefit analyses to technology reviews. MRA fully supports the independent assistance and assessment processes that have been adopted, as these will ensure the program is successful in reaching its goals.

Start compiling your application as soon as possible. Projects that are eligible for funding cannot be considered business as usual. Retrospective funding for work undertaken is also ineligible. So although your proposed project may have been in the back of your corporation’s mind for some time, it is likely that you will need to research your technology, amend your development consent, obtain quotes, prepare a cost benefit analysis, justify the material flow, obtain approval and sign off and prepare all the necessary documentation.

Due to the breadth and simultaneous roll out of programs within WLRM, it is also critical to work within the framework of your chosen grant. Be cautious of any conflicting or ambiguous information provided to you unless it has been received in writing from NSW EPA.

We encourage all companies, councils and charities to take advantage of WLRM opportunities, and not to adopt a ‘wait and see’ methodology. WLRM is shaping up to be the most effective and successful grant program in Australia. Levy funds are being responsibly reinvested into our industry and are supporting a renaissance in recycling in NSW, much to the envy of our neighbouring states. The NSW Government, NSW EPA and Stephen Beaman in particularly are deserving of the sector’s congratulations.

Roslyn Florie-George – Environmental Engineering Consultant

Mike Ritchie – Director

RFGMike Ritchie