An understanding of community expectations and concerns about the waste and resource recovery sector is important to underpin community support, cooperation and collaboration with policy, programs, and plans to manage waste.
Sustainability Victoria worked with CSIRO on a social research project to understand community perceptions and expectations of the waste and resource recovery sector. The research identified several factors that are important to building community trust and acceptance of the sector, otherwise known as a ‘social licence to operate’.
The project is part of the Victorian Waste Education Strategy which is a key element in delivering Victoria’s 30-year Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan (SWRRIP).
The research project had four objectives:
- Understand and measure community attitudes and perceptions
- Identify drivers of trust and acceptance: 'What's important'
- Model important factors: trust and acceptance and 'how it works'
- Identify opportunities for policy, programs, collaborative actions.
SV and CSIRO engaged communities and other stakeholders at seven waste and resource recovery sites across Victoria. Sites were chosen from the 23 waste and resource recovery hubs considered of strategic importance in the SWRRIP.
CSIRO held group discussions with residents living around the seven sites and interviewed key ‘informants’ such as industry and government representatives. CSIRO also conducted a statewide survey on Victorian attitudes to waste management.
CSIRO then held three events to feed results back to community groups and informants. At the last of these events, industry, government and community attendees identified a range of initiatives aiming to address the most salient findings from this research and identify opportunities for collaboration.
The initiatives identified at the final stakeholder workshop support improvements in four key areas:
- Governance: the confidence and understanding communities have on systems and controls in place to manage health and impacts to the environment and communities, including confidence in regulators and long-term strategy and urban planning
- Engagement: the quality of the relationships between operators and affected communities, including responsiveness, depth of engagement, action taken and collaboration
- Benefits: community understanding of the local and societal benefits of the sector
- Knowledge: understanding of the integrated waste and resource recovery systems that service every Victorian, transport, process and sort waste, recover some materials and dispose of other materials to landfill.
SV will undertake further work to determine how these will be addressed. Subscribe to SV’s In the Know newsletter to receive updates.