Australia generates 74 million tonnes of waste each year and recycles only 60 per cent; it’s an issue that the Federal Government is addressing head on with its world-leading Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020.
Over the next three years the legislation will completely change the way that our waste materials are managed. The waste export ban is a once in a generation opportunity to transform our waste management and recycling sector to collect, recycle, reuse, and convert waste into a resource.
From 1 January 2021, any business that wants to export waste glass must apply for a licence from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE).
It’s a significant shakeup for the almost 260 Australian businesses thatexport around 6,700 export consignments of waste each year. This reform required DAWE to create a modern digital platform to streamline the application process for both exporters and Department personnel, while keeping data secure and private.
Working with Microsoft partner Veritec, DAWE rapidly developed a Microsoft Dynamics 365 based solution – with the initial prototype rolled out in just three months.
The velocity is particularly remarkable as the policy details and legislation were still being developed in parallel with the digital platform being developed. All this, just as the global COVID-19 pandemic reared its head.
In spite of the challenges the platform went live in time for the first waste glass export licences to be granted at the start of the year – on time and in line with the timeframe agreed by all levels of government.
Besides streamlining the application for and granting of export licences, and declarations, the system will provide detailed national-level data on exports of waste in near real time, improving Australia’s understanding of the evolving circular economy, and providing an evidence base for future policies.
Dennis Foden, acting Assistant Secretary of the Architecture and Engagement Branch, acknowledges the tight timelines of the project. We had 91 working days to build and test our portal system for the multiple stakeholders involved in this including DAWE, the Australian Border Force (ABF), and waste exporters.
“We mapped out likely demand using historical data about waste exports to ensure the system had the capacity, and also remained mindful of the need for a staged introduction – first for waste glass export, then plastic, tyres and eventually paper and cardboard. And don’t forget, this was brand new legislation, a recently formed Government department – and we also had to navigate COVID.”
Rachel Burgess, acting Assistant Secretary of the Waste Regulation and Stewardship Branch, had a very broad but clear idea of what the system needed to do and look like. The system needed to manage a licence and declaration scheme to ensure waste exporters were compliant with the new laws. It needed to be clean, crisp, intuitive and professional looking. It also needed to provide a way for the ABF to be able to check on the exporters’ DAWE declaration by integrating with its cargo system and then to provide completed export data back to DAWE to square the circle.
Working with Veritec, DAWE mapped out how a Dynamics 365 CRM would provide a user-friendly mobile-accessible portal for exporters to register, to create an application detailing their business, waste processing and intended market. The application needed to be submitted along with any evidence attached. The system would then provide the exporter with the necessary licence or rejection advice. At the back end, the system also manages the workflow associated with the licence application as it is assessed.