Industry News

Palaszczuk government passes laws to better improve waste management

Queensland is now one step closer to transitioning to a zero-waste future with the passing of the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Waste Levy) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 in Queensland parliament.

“Since the former LNP government repealed Queensland’s waste levy in 2012, we have been the only mainland state in Australia without a levy,” said Leeanne Enoch, minister for environment and the Great Barrier Reef.

“That has made Queensland a cheap place to dump interstate waste, and since 2012, more than 3.7 million tonnes of waste have been trucked across the border into Queensland. On top of that, Queensland has one of the lowest recycling rates in the country.

“Thanks to these new laws, we will be able to improve our waste management, stop interstate waste, increase investment in industry, and create more jobs while protecting the environment.

“The Palaszczuk government is also standing by our commitment that Queenslanders will not have to pay more to take out their wheelie bin every week. We are providing advance payments to councils over-and-above the rate of household waste that goes to landfill to ensure the costs are not passed onto ratepayers.

“There is no doubt we need to do better. At the moment, we are generating more waste than we are growing in population and we are also recycling only 45 per cent of the waste we generate, and this needs to change.”

Amongst other things, the recently passed legislation reintroduced a waste disposal levy for the state, and because the waste levy will only be paid on waste that is disposed of to landfill, Enoch said it will provide a valuable incentive to reduce, reuse and recycle waste as much as possible.

“Part of fighting the war on waste means changing our way of thinking. We need to start seeing waste as a valuable resource and the waste levy will help attract investment, develop new industries and products, and grow jobs across the state in the resource recovery sector,” Enoch continued.

“Not only is diverting waste away from landfill better for our environment, it also provides more job opportunities. It is estimated that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste disposed in landfill, about three jobs are supported. But if that waste was recycled, this would support about nine jobs.

“70 per cent of revenue raised from the waste levy will go back to councils, the waste industry, scheme start-up and environmental programs. This is unprecedented in Australia. No other state or territory reinvests that much from their waste levies.”

The programs the Queensland government will fund from the levy include compliance work to reduce the risk of litter and illegal dumping, a school-based education program to help our kids learn about recycling, a regional recycling transport assistance program, and support for the construction industry.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) had long upheld the positive impacts the waste levy would have on the state, including improving its economic, environmental and social health.

According to Gayle Sloan, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association Australia (WMRR) CEO, the Association appreciated the Queensland government considering the far-reaching impacts the levy would have on stakeholders in the supply-chain.

“With the legislation now in place, the Queensland government can kick this into gear so that we can start to create jobs and investment in the state and fall in step with the rest of Australia in transitioning to a circular economy,” Sloan said.

The levy will begin on July 1, 2019 at a rate of $75 per tonne for general waste, $155 per tonne for Category 1 regulated waste, and $105 per tonne for Category 2 regulated waste.