QLD’s Waste Industry Directions Paper sets the scene for significant public policy reform
By MRA Consulting Group
Following Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s announcement back in March 20th, the Queensland Government released for public consultation a directions paper on the State’s recycling and waste industry.
The two major themes of the paper are the introduction of a waste levy and the development of a new ‘Resource recovery, recycling and waste management strategy’ that will support the Advance Queensland agenda by promoting growth and jobs in the resource recovery and recycling industry. Discussing the paper, Acting Premier Jackie Trad stressed that the strategy will both provide the industry with policy certainty and incorporate measures to avoid costs for households, despite the levy.
Key points of the paper include:
- A $70/tonne general waste levy (MSW, C&D, C&I), $100-150/tonne for hazardous waste.
- To be applied from Q1 2019 and increase by $5/tonne for the next 4 years.
- Levy zones (see map) cover 38 LGAs and 90% of population (metro areas not regional/rural).
- Travels with waste (Payable for all waste generated within levy zone even if landfilled outside the zone. Waste generated outside the levy zone attracts the levy if landfilled within the zone.)
- Interstate waste always pays the levy.
- Will be hypothecated back to councils at the start of each FY to encourage their use of it to divert additional tonnes.
- Specifies exemptions and concessions.
- Diversion targets are set.
- Provides for grants, enforcement and reinvestment.
- Considers landfill disposal bans.
- Covers all waste streams.
- Circular economy.
- Recognises the need for good data, monitoring and reporting.
The announcement was well received by the wider waste management industry including the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) which pointed out that there is still room for improvement given the significant issues with the current waste and resource recovery policy and legislation in Queensland.
MRA Consulting Group Managing Director Mr Mike Ritchie congratulated Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch and the Queensland Government for carrying through with a significant public policy reform.
Mike has been a vocal advocate for the reintroduction of a levy in Queensland which he expects will “…provide the much-needed price signal to kickstart Queensland’s resource recovery industry. The levy will help drive recycling rates in Queensland and the generation of green jobs. There are three recycling jobs for every one in landfill.
“Full hypothecation to local government and recycling is a bold move that other jurisdictions would do well to look into” Mike continued.
Although the $70 levy is expected to have the added benefit of slowing the 1 million tonnes being trucked from Sydney to SE Queensland, Mike points out that the price differential between Sydney and Queensland is still significant: “With landfill costs often being $300/tonne or more in Sydney, the proposed levy may not be enough to thwart all waste movement. Currently you can get waste into a Queensland landfill for less than $20/tonne, that is still less than $90 with a levy. That doesn’t even cover the costs of operating a modern landfill, much less rehabilitation and post-closure costs. This, along with the lack of planning provisions for future waste infrastructure are my only major concerns with the paper.”
“The forthcoming Queensland waste strategy as outlined in the directions paper is an excellent start hitting most of the high points: targets; levy; all streams covered; hypothecation maximised; council funding; grants and reinvestment. I am confident that the final strategy will expand in scope to further address the interstate transport of waste and focus more on waste infrastructure planning”, Mike concluded.
The Transforming Queensland’s Recycling and Waste Industry Directions Paper is available here. Consultation on the strategy and the new levy remains open until 29 June 2018.
As always, I welcome your feedback on this, or any other topic on ‘The Tipping Point’.
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