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Queensland waste levy to come into effect on July 1

Monday, July 1, marks the re-introduction of a waste levy in Queensland, which Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) is in favour of.

It will bring Queensland in line with all other mainland states that have long had levies in place. The Queensland levy rates will be $105-155 per tonne for regulated waste, and $75 per tonne for other levyable waste.

On Friday, WMRR CEO, Gayle Sloan, said the Queensland government and the Queensland Minister for Environment, Leeanne Enoch, must be acknowledged for their openness and willingness to listen to industry’s concerns and work with collaboratively throughout the levy implementation process.

“In doing so, the government was able to minimise the impact on both industry and local government, for what is a significant and vital change for our industry.

“The Queensland government did not rush into this but instead heeded the advice of stakeholders and provided time for industry and councils to make the necessary adjustments and prepare for the levy. These are important lessons that other jurisdictions should take on board in their review and decision‐making processes,” Sloan said.

In contrast, the South Australian government announced in June that it will increase its solid waste levy from $100 per tonne to $140 per tonne in just over six months, which had some, including Sloan, concerned too little notice was given.

There are fears householders and businesses will bear the brunt of the costs as councils could be forced to increase rates.

The SA government will increase the solid waste levy to $110 per tonne on July 1, followed by $140 per tonne on January 1, 2020.

In response to that announcement, Sloan said the waste industry had been “blindsided” by the announcement as the levy was previously expected to increase by $3.

However, Waste and Recycling Industry Association of South Australia (WRISA) executive officer, Chris Brideson, said the increase in January, while substantial, gives WRISA members enough time to communicate with their clients, but it could still have an effect on companies who have set budgets for the year.

In response to the announcement earlier in June, Brideson told Inside Waste that there are some WRISA members, from the resource recovery sector, who would see advantages to a substantial increase in the levy.

“At the other end of the spectrum, landfill operators could see a decrease in their gate revenue.

“On balance, I guess most people will just work with it,” Brideson said.

With regards to Queensland, WMRR’s stated that Queensland has offered the most incentives and discounts to drive remanufacturing and incentivise the use of recycled content out of all the states in Australia.

“Over the last two years, there has been so much talk about what Australia needs to do to manage its waste and recover resources. Queensland has put its money where its mouth is by committing 70 per cent of levy funds back into industry, effectively using the levy as a tool to drive investment in a bid to grow our essential sector and build a much‐needed domestic remanufacturing sector,” Sloan said.

“WMRR recognises change is not easy however, we know business as usual is not an option and we believe that the Queensland government is to be congratulated for this move.

“Queensland has one of the highest generators of waste per capita and the lowest diverters of waste per capita; it has now taken real action to start making the structural shifts we need to create 9.2 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes we recycle, compared with the current reliance on disposal, which only creates 2.8 jobs,” Sloan said.

She said WMRR urges other states to take a leaf out of Queensland’s book and importantly, work together to drive real and tangible waste management and resource recovery outcomes.