ATC Williams’ new Toowoomba office will provide direct services to the greater South East Queensland regional areas.
Toowoomba is a growing rural hub 1.5 hours west of Brisbane. Based in the heart of Toowoomba for ease of meeting and travel, our new office will provide our clients with convenient and direct access to our professional staff. From here we can better service ongoing projects in the area for clients such as Lockyer Valley Regional Council, Somerset Regional Council, Toowoomba Regional Council, Southern Downs Regional Council, Western Downs Regional Council and JJ Richards at Jandowae and Jackson.
Joe McLeod and Mal Jones will be key members of the Toowoomba team.
Introducing Joe McLeod, Associate Engineer
Joe McLeod has been with ATC Williams for almost two years and will be leading the Toowoomba office.
Joe is a well-known senior environmental engineer in the Queensland waste management industry, having worked on projects such as Swanbank Landfill and Brisbane Landfill. Joe has worked with Gold Coast City Council, BDR Projects, Cleanaway (previously Transpacific Industries), Aecom, and as a private consultant. His strength is in waste operations, with skills that complement the design services ATC Williams are known for in the area. His competencies include Construction Quality Assurance (CQA), landfill closure and remediation, and transfer stations construction and operation.
About Mal Jones, Principal Landfill and Waste Engineer
Mal joined ATC Williams in 2015 as our waste management leader. He has 30 years’ experience in both local government and corporate civil engineering projects across Queensland.
Mal will be a regular at the Toowoomba office and is very familiar with the region. These connections are strengthened by his involvement in the reconstruction projects for Logan City Council, Ipswich City Council, Scenic Rim and (TRC) Toowoomba Regional Councils post the 2011 flood events. In this role, he spent three years on the ground in Toowoomba and surrounding towns.
We talk more with Mal below.
Mal, how did your career take you into waste management?
My early career experience was in civil construction and maintenance with Brisbane City Council before moving into their newly formed waste management branch in the early 1990s. The branch was part of the waste industry transition from a focus on the Public Health Act to the broader environment. The waste management branch was predominantly engineering-based and focused on the construction and operation of four push pit transfer stations to feed a new composite lined landfill.
Then I moved from being responsible for landfill and transfer station operations to a newly created role to manage the council’s landfill remediation branch. Here we had a day labour workforce installing landfill gas systems, leachate cutoff drains and landfill capping. An environmental ratepayer levy funded approximately $15 million of landfill remediation projects and $4 million of landfill maintenance each year. Projects included remediation of the 260 hectares Willawong Waste Disposal Site historically used for the treatment and disposal of municipal and industrial wastes.
Seeking further challenges, I took the opportunity to work as a Principal Engineer for Aecom. I was very fortunate that my first project was to develop a waste strategy in the Whitsunday Region. How great is consulting!
Why did you choose ATC Williams?
My connection to ATC Williams goes back to the first year of Uni, where I met Allan Watson, who is now CEO of ATC Williams. Allan also provided consulting for me in Brisbane City Council. Lis Boczek, a Principal at ATC Williams, worked with me in Brisbane and sold me on the virtues of joining a genuinely agile consulting company with a well-respected reputation. How could I resist? I particularly enjoy the fact that we can take time to develop quality relationships with our clients as we get to understand their needs and therefore, can efficiently target our efforts to meet their desired outcomes. It is particularly satisfying when this approach creates longevity and repeat business with great clients.
How do you feel about returning to Toowoomba?
Before joining ATC Williams, I moved to Toowoomba for three years working as Senior Construction Manager for the flood recovery works in the area after the tragic 2011 flood event. I enjoyed having a break from city life and formed a lot of connections there.
I’m excited about expanding ATC Williams’ waste management capacity further into rural Queensland. Councils prefer local consultants, and it is usually a procurement requirement when they are assessing tenders or meeting grant criteria. Due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Queensland government is allocating budget monies to local capital works projects, and there are more projects to be across. Basing ourselves in Toowoomba will allow greater access to our regional clients to understand their needs better and deliver with more efficiency.
What are your thoughts on energy from waste?
The markets haven’t been able to stabilise energy from waste as a commodity yet, so increasing financial incentives such as levies might be needed to make it work. It’s an attractive solution in Europe to use as a source of thermal heating and can be easily reticulated there. In Australia, it is harder to implement because landfilling is still cheaper. There is also a fear factor for energy from waste to overcome. We must be willing to go through teething issues though over the next ten years or so to find a workable solution to set ourselves up for the future.
Where do you think recycling is heading next?
It’s good that the focus has moved in recent times to resource recovery. Recycling is encouraged by the government, but without mandates to use recycled materials, the incentive falls short. Procurement policies need to change at all levels of government to require the use of recycled product as a requirement to stop waste getting into landfill and reduce reliance on virgin resources. We will also see fewer landfill developments going forward as approval processes become harder and operating procedures more onerous. That will drive much-needed innovations in landfill and transfer station design and construction, remembering that waste management is a younger and less developed area in engineering, especially compared to the advances seen in other areas of engineering such as electronics and building construction.
What advice do you have for young environmental engineers?
It’s admirable that the younger generation of engineers are environmentally focused and motivated to have qualifications in this area. Sustainability has been a buzz word for years, but now we are starting to qualify what that really means. The financial drivers in waste management will, unfortunately, make change harder than people want it to be. Still, it’s exciting for this generation because we are on the cusp of having technology that allows the opportunity for real change. COVID-19 is having an effect here too, as we are looking inward and considering family and environment in deeper ways. The cultural drive for mandating ‘reuse and repurpose’ are feeling very relevant to consumers right now.