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Queensland needs an EPA, says leading associations

Six weeks out from the Queensland election, both the Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) and the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) have appealed to the government to set-up an independent Environment Protection Authority.

WRIQ put out its priorities for the sector in early September and WRIQ CEO Mark Smith said that Queensland’s approach to environmental regulation is out of step with the rest of the country.

“We want a stand-alone regulator with the people, culture and capacity to create an even playing field and support business as well as balance environmental protection.”

Meanwhile, WMRR has listed six WARR priorities that it states will create jobs and investment for the state.

The list has been sent to all state political leaders, encouraging them to adopt and commit to priorities which WMRR CEO, Gayle Sloan said will bring much-needed jobs and investment to boost the state’s economy. Also top of WMMR’s list is the establishment of an independent Environment Protection Authority.

The  Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch told Inside Waste that the government received WMRR’s letter yesterday, September 21 containing a number of requests which will be considered in due course.

“We reintroduced the waste levy after it was scrapped by the LNP and we reinvest 70 per cent of waste levy revenue into support for the waste industry, local councils and environmental projects.That’s more than any other state,” she added.

WMRR’s list includes:

  1. Establish a separate and independent Environment Protection Authority with its own Board to provide greater certainty around how regulations will be approached and interpreted by government.
  2. Continuation of, and support for, the waste disposal levy, which is an economic tool to divert waste from landfill. The advance annual payment to local government must be sunsetted to drive greater resource recovery, and a dedicated and transparent fund set up to manage and reinvest collected levy monies.
  3. Adoption of a strategic WARR state-wide infrastructure planto enable long-term planning, including identifying both market demand and supply, against the backdrop of the impending COAG waste bans and the need to rebuild the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. Review and standardise datacollection, analysis and publication. The current lack of robust and reliable data is a barrier to investment decisions.
  5. Establish a market development agency, similar to the approach undertaken in other jurisdictions, to invest in creating markets in Queensland to enable the remanufacture and demand for recycled materials. This will lead to job growth throughout the state.
  6. Government must show leadership in developing domestic markets by committing to funding to sustainable procurement as well as developing and implementing policies which require prioritising the purchase of goods with recycled content across all government contracts.

“Meeting these priorities will increase our essential sector’s contribution to Queensland’s Gross State Product and drive the state’s environmental and employment objectives,” Sloan said.

Meanwhile, Mark Smith told Inside Waste that he supported WMRR advocating for the same priorities coming into the Queensland election.

 “Our sector doesn’t stop and both our associations understand this. With the fit for purpose government policies and correct market interventions our sector is on the cusp of greatness in Queensland.

“But let’s be clear. Renaming something does not change something. We need a new and contemporary approach to environmental regulation that balances protection of the environment and the market, compliance activity, supports good operators, drives innovation but most of all creates a level playing field that includes quick, swift action on rogue elements in the sector,” he added.