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Industry welcomes QLD action on interstate waste

By MRA Consulting Group

The waste and recycling industry strongly supports the reintroduction of a waste levy in QLD to grow recycling in QLD and limit the continuing movement of over a million tonnes of waste from Sydney to SE QLD.

Mike RitchieMRA Consulting Group Managing Director Mr Mike Ritchie today said “I congratulate Premier Palaszczuk and Environment Minister Enoch on their (Tuesday Mar 20) announcement that the government will reintroduce a QLD landfill levy”.

“More than 20,000 unnecessary truck movements per year are occurring on the Pacific Highway just as a means of arbitraging the different levy regimes between QLD and NSW” Mr Ritchie said. “The new government is to be congratulated for acting so quickly after the election to fix this problem.”

“There is no justification for more than 1 million tonnes per year of Sydney waste to be dumped in SE QLD just because of government policy” he said.

The arbitrage arises because of the absence of a levy in QLD combined with large cheap landfill voids in the Ipswich area. Unfortunately, the Ipswich Council is powerless to prevent the trucks coming up from Sydney.

“It has to be a government mechanism. It also has to avoid falling foul of s92 of the Constitution which allows for free trade between States. A QLD landfill levy does just that” he said.

“The proposed levy provides for improved recycling rates in QLD (currently one of the lowest rates in Australia at only 38% compared to 60-80% for all other mainland States). It sends a clear market signal. If you are a waste generator and don’t want to pay the levy, then recycle. Simple.” Mr Ritchie said.

“The levy must be designed to change recycling behaviour” Mr Ritchie said. “It should not be designed solely to stop waste from NSW. That is a benefit but not a justification. The levy is about driving the jobs growth that comes from recycling instead of landfill. We create 3 times as many jobs in recycling as we do in landfill per tonne of waste” he said.

Mr Ritchie called for the QLD government to apply the levy to all waste to QLD landfills (including household waste) but to hypothecate a significant proportion back to local government to both compensate them but also to provide funds to innovate in waste services and reprocessing.

“The simplest way to apply the levy is on all waste. An exemption for large council garbage trucks would be another way to exempt local councils, but this also reduces their incentive to recycle, innovate and grow jobs” Mr Ritchie said.

As always, we welcome your feedback on this, or any other topic on ‘The Tipping Point’.

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