Engaging communities on waste

Last updated: 31 August 2022

The waste and resource recovery sector plays a key role in maintaining health and wellbeing of our communities, environment and economy. The sector is an essential service, but it is vital that it forms a collaborative relationship with the community.

Waste and resource recovery operators build and maintain a social licence to operate by using community engagement to:

  • deliver their essential services effectively
  • respond to changing community needs, issues and unexpected events
  • improve their reputation as an essential service in the community.

The community grants a social licence when they accept:

  • operation
  • policy
  • programs
  • waste management plans.

The concept of social licence has evolved from Corporate Social Responsibility.

An important characteristic of social licence is that there is no written agreement or formal licence, as it’s built on trust. It can be withdrawn at any time.

Benefits of a social licence

Proactively building and managing a social licence allows you to:

  • respond to the concerns of the community
  • develop strong relationships with the community to ensure issues can be de-escalated collaboratively and respectfully
  • have co-ownership of solutions, which increases certainty of acceptance and success
  • increase the likelihood that the community will support a new site or facility
  • develop better community engagement
  • improve positive reputation within the community
  • develop community understanding of the waste and resource recovery sector.

Training program: Social licence to operate (coming soon)

Our research shows there’s an increase of challenges for managing an effective social licence due to:

  • a lack of confidence in the sector
  • population growth placing pressure on services and infrastructure.

This means waste and resource recovery operators need to develop new capabilities to manage their social licence.

To support this, we will be launching a training program to empower you to build strong, long lasting relationships with your community.

Industry associations and training providers will deliver interactive workshops. Participants will learn how they can build and maintain social licence in the sector through engagement with stakeholders.

Who is it for?

Companies that would benefit from this training include:

  • private and local government waste and resource recovery operators with existing or proposed facilities
  • logistics and transport operators moving waste
  • community engagement advisors and consultants at local councils that provide community engagement support for waste and resource recovery facilities in their council area.

We’ve developed the training program with support from:

  • an advisory panel
  • members from industry and industry associations
  • the CSIRO
  • state and local governments.

The training draws on:

  • CSIRO’s social licence to operate (SLO) model
  • research that applies the model to the waste and resource recovery industry in Victoria
  • the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group’s Community and Stakeholder Engagement Guide.

This training supports operators to meet their obligations under the Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan (SWRRIP).

Register your interest

Join our database and we’ll let you know as soon as the training is available. You can also choose to receive other regular communications.

Further reading

Changes and perceptions in Victorian attitudes and perceptions of the waste and resource recovery sector: 2016 to 2019

1 August 2019

This report 'Changes and perceptions in Victorian attitudes and perceptions of the waste and resource recovery sector: 2016 to 2019' assesses how community perceptions, and expectations of the waste and resource recovery sector have changed since 2016.