The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) yesterday congratulated the winners of the inaugural 2024 ENVIRO Awards for innovation, excellence, and leadership in the circular economy.

Michelle Mandl, a member of TOMRA Cleanaway executive team and General Manager of Communications, Customer and Engagement, recently celebrated an appointment to the WMRR Board as a nominated Director. Michelle’s appointment to the Board allows her to join fellow industry advocates in the opportunity to directly influence and support the Association’s advocacy for the national waste and resource recovery industry.

Through her over 20 years of experience within the waste and resource recovery industry, Michelle has developed among many things an incredible human-centric view of the intersection between waste and human behaviour. Michelle is passionate about understanding how the way we manage waste both influences and is influenced by the communities involved with our waste and recycling systems.

Utilising this viewpoint and her wealth of experience, Michelle recently stepped up to lend her voice to the ENVIRO Conference Committee and Awards Committee, celebrating those within the industry that are leading the way in the circular economy.

ENVIRO Award winners announced

“As part of WMRR’s national circular economy conference, ENVIRO, we have acknowledged and celebrated leaders in this field that are leading the charge in bringing a circular economy to life in Australia,” WMRR Chief Executive Officer Gayle Sloan said.

“These inaugural awards have identified and rewarded those people, organisations and projects that exemplar the three (3) circular economy principles, driven by:

  • Designing out and eliminating waste and pollution;
  • Circulating products and materials at their highest value for longer; and
  • Regenerating nature.

“WMRR wanted to amplify and celebrate leaders, organisations and projects that are genuinely using less, maximising resources, mitigating carbon and making lasting change for the community, business and the planet.

“We thank all who took the time to nominate and apply. The judging panel was impressed by the breadth and calibre of applications both in terms of impact and legacy. “There are so many brilliant initiatives and people simply getting on with making resources and products last, and using less. It was inspiring to see all the great work that is already going on and, through the 2024 ENVIRO Awards, WMRR is grateful to highlight the silent achievers that are truly making a difference every day.

“It has been a very successful start for the ENVIRO Awards, and I am confident they will go from strength to strength,” Ms Sloan said.

The winners of the 2024 ENIVRO Circular Economy Awards are:

A deeper dive into the inaugural winners

2024 ENVIRO Circular Pioneer Award Winner – Greg Welsh

Greg Welsh accepts his award as ENVIRO’s 2024 Circular Pioneer

Greg is the Founder of Winya Indigenous Office Furniture. No-one has done more in Australia to revolutionise the office furniture and building board sector than Greg. As Chief Executive Officer of Sebel in the late 2000s, he introduced the first 100% Australian made recycled plastic chairs. Almost every Australian school student since would have sat in one of Greg’s chairs. He also successfully pushed for the use of recycled material in Laminex and melamine board and established a program to salvage timber of Arnhem Land, that would otherwise have been burnt, for use in lounge suites and at the same time creating a new industry for the local Indigenous population. Greg has now turned his attention to reusing soft wiring removed from office strip-outs to be tested, certified and resupplied to the fit-out market. He is the only Australian to be awarded by the United Nations for Leadership in Sustainable Development Goals.

2024 ENVIRO Circular Project Award Winner – Wannon Water

Wannon Water, a state-owned water and sewerage provider in South West Victoria, developed a Circular Economy Roadmap and Toolkit which was developed after the organisation identified the opportunity to take a systems approach and working within its wider regional network to collaborate across the value chain. Through its work, the project served as a catalyst for regional collaboration and collective action using a strategic approach including greater innovation, building capability and identifying regionally significant projects that meet the principles of a circular economy.

2024 ENVIRO Circular Transformation Award Winner – Reverse Garbage

Kirsten Junor, CEO Reverse Garbage accepts the ENVIRO Circular Transformation Award for 2024 from Michelle Mandl

Reverse Garbage is a self-funded not-for-profit enterprise in its 49th year of operation in Sydney’s Inner West. It runs a creative reuse centre which redirects commercial and industrial waste from landfill to give it a new life. Started by a group of teachers and community workers, education is still a major focus to this day, reaching some 11,500 young people in 2022/23 and passing on the ‘choose to reuse’ message. In that same period, it rescued nearly 120,000 tonnes of material from landfill. What sets it apart is that Reverse Garbage will consider anything for donation as long as it is safe for reuse in some form.


If you would like to learn more about initiatives from the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia, then visit the WMRR Website.