Veolia Environmental Services and Australian Landfill Owners Association government relations campaign

VeoliaChallenge

Organic waste in landfills takes approximately 30 years to decompose, emitting methane (a greenhouse gas significantly more potent than carbon dioxide) throughout that period. By putting a price on carbon emissions the Government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme would have made current landfill customers – including ratepayers and local councils – liable for emissions produced from waste deposited as far back as 1980 (known as “legacy waste”) at a cost of millions of dollars a year.

Veolia is one of the largest landfill operators in Australia. The Government had a political mandate to act on climate change and the Minister was firm in her resistance to any changes to the CPRS that would protect business interests. Veolia Environmental Services engaged Parker & Partners to lobby the federal government for the removal of legacy waste from the CPRS legislation as well as to raise the profile of Veolia’s brand within government circles.

Insight

Parker & Partners drew on our extensive relationships with Australia’s politicians, bureaucrats and media and found most had not heard of Veolia, and had no understanding of the concept of ‘legacy waste’ or the implications of the CPRS on the waste sector.

Creative Idea

We revived the defunct industry think-tank the Barton Group to provide intellectual force and further credibility to the arguments, and we created a new waste industry group, the Australian Landfill Owners Association to lobby government on the issue and to influence media coverage.

Campaign

  • Multiple, targeted government relations engagements and meetings programs;
  • Detailed policy and legislative development;
  • Extensive journalist briefings and the crafting, dissemination and pitching of media releases and stories;
  • Stakeholder relations and coalition-building within the waste industry; and
  • Industry leadership and policy consolidation through the establishment of pre-eminent waste industry peak body, the Australian Landfill Owners Association.

Outcome

In April 2009 the Federal Government announced that emissions from ‘legacy waste’ would be excluded from coverage, making landfill the only sector covered by the CPRS to successfully convince the Government to substantially modify its legislation.

To date, the waste sector is the only CPRS covered sector to successfully convince the Australian Government to substantively modify the proposed CPRS legislation. Other powerful industry lobby groups – coal, minerals, and stationary energy to name but a few – have still had no success in modifying the CPRS legislation.

In terms of broader public affairs outcomes for Veolia, by May 2009 ALOA represented 70 percent of the waste management industry in Australia and was recognised by the Australian Government as the voice of the industry. In addition Veolia’s Director of Sustainability was elected as Secretary and official spokesman for the Association.