WMRR Landfills and Transfer Stations Conference opens

More than 300 waste management and resource recovery operators have descended on Brisbane this week to discuss landfill and transfer station innovation, design, operation and regulation at the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia’s (WMRR) 2019 Australian Landfills and Transfer Stations Conference.

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said the organisation and its sponsors invested in the conference because they recognise that landfills play an important role and are integral to both environment and community safety.

“We must continue to ensure that Australia’s landfills are world’s best practice in order that we continue to maintain a network of high-quality engineered facilities that effectively manages our residual waste while ensuring human health and the environment are protected at all times.

“The role of landfills goes beyond the responsible disposal of residual waste. Landfills and transfer stations play a fundamental role during periods of service and economic disruption and post-disaster emergency waste management,” Ms Sloan said.

Queensland Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch, who opened the conference, noted the groundswell of community support for effective waste management and resource recovery, and reiterated the Queensland Government’s commitment to transitioning to a circular economy.

“Queensland now has a waste levy after years of getting by without an effective market signal. The levy will bolster the recycling and resource recovery sector without a cost impact on community. It will lead to job creation and new industries that manufacture products using recycled content.

“The levy is just one vital component. The draft waste management and resource recovery strategy, which is currently out for consultation, sets the course for Queensland to become a zero-waste society where the waste we produce is reused and recycled as much as possible,” Ms. Enoch said.

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Minister to open Australian Landfill and Transfer Stations Conference

Queensland Government Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch will be sharing the government’s vision for the state’s waste and resource recovery industry at this week’s 2019 Australian Landfill and Transfer Stations Conference.

Hosted by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), WMRR in a statement welcomed the Queensland Government’s new waste strategy and its commitment to a circular economy.

“There is no denying that Queensland will have to play catch-up, but the good news is that it has the benefit of hindsight and can learn fundamental lessons from its neighbours on the eastern seaboard,” the statement read.

“The Queensland Government certainly does not have its blinkers on and is asking the right questions. It is pleasing to see that the Department of Environment and Science is thinking about how to stimulate investment to build the economic opportunity that our essential waste management and resource recovery industry offers.”

She said the government’s decisions to date are a sign of things to come, including the potential growth of the state’s resource recovery and remanufacturing industries, which signals more jobs, less reliance on export markets and a boost to the local economy.

“Queensland can outshine the rest of Australia because the state has a minister who has an acute understanding of what needs to be done to build and sustain an integrated and efficient waste and resource recovery system, which undoubtedly includes the consideration and maintenance of well-managed landfills and transfer stations,” Ms Sloan said.

Ms Sloan said that Queensland was focusing on market development and infrastructure planning, which are sorely missing in NSW.

“Queensland has also committed to reinvesting 70 per cent of levy funds in industry, the environment and local government, going above and beyond the other States.

“Importantly, we are seeing plans for a whole-of-government approach, which WMRR has been harping on for years because waste and resource recovery is an essential industry and it is a shared responsibility.”

Ms Enoch will be giving the opening address at 8am on Wednesday, March 27 at the 2019 Australian Landfill and Transfer Stations Conference which will be held at the Pullman Mercure in Brisbane.

Queensland landfill levy legislation passes parliament

The Queensland Government has passed its Waste Reduction and Recycling (Waste Levy) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said Queensland was now one step closer to transitioning to a zero waste future.

The legislation passed today reintroduces a waste disposal levy for Queensland.

“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,” she said.

“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,” Ms Enoch said.

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“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% of the waste we generate, and this needs to change.”

Ms Enoch said because the waste levy will only be paid on waste that is disposed of to landfill, it will provide a valuable incentive to reduce, reuse and recycle waste as much as possible.

“Part of fighting the war on waste also 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.

“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.”

Ms Enoch said 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 Palaszczuk 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.

Waste Management & Resource Recovery Association Australia CEO Gayle Sloan said that the association appreciated the Queensland Government considering the far-reaching impacts the levy would have on stakeholders in the supply chain.

The WMRR had long upheld the positive impacts the waste levy would have on Queensland, including improving the state’s economic, environmental, and social health.

“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,” Ms Sloan said, adding that industry is keenly awaiting the 1 July 2019 levy start date.

The levy will begin on 1 July 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.

QLD Draft Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy

The Queensland Government has released a draft waste management strategy for consultation, setting targets for 2050 and action points for stakeholders.

Targets for 2050 include having a rate of recycling of 75 per cent for all waste types, with only 10 per cent of waste going to landfill, and a 25 per cent reduction in household waste.

Queensland reported 10.9 million tonnes of waste in 2017-18, with 45 per cent of this recycled.

The Queensland Government plans to invest $100 million over the next three years for new and expanded waste management facilities.

In the report, Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said this will be complemented by a suite of education and support programs. The government also has a commitment to devote more than 70 per cent of levy proceeds to resource recovery and other programs that reduce the impact of waste.

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Other measures already adopted include a $100 million Resource Recovery Industry Development Program and $5 million Waste to Bioenergy Fund.

Five strategic priorities are outlined including reducing waste, transitioning to a circular economy and building economic opportunities.

In building economic opportunities, the government has listed action points to develop the Advance Queensland Waste and Resource Recovery Industries Roadmap. Further to this, developing  proposals for landfill disposal bans and creating market development plans for key waste types and waste sectors.

Ms Enoch said the draft strategy presented a fundamental shift in the way waste is managed in Queensland.

“The latest figures show we are generating more waste than we are growing in population, and Queensland is still one of the worst performers in Australia when it comes to recycling,” Ms Enoch said.

“This comprehensive draft strategy supports the Palaszczuk Government’s long-term vision of becoming a zero-waste society, where waste is avoided and the waste we do produce is reused and recycled.”

She said these targets would also directly contribute to the Queensland Government’s targets of zero net emissions by 2050.

“The end goals from this strategy are simple. We need to reduce the amount of waste we create, cut greenhouse gas emissions and leave our environment in a better condition for our future generations,” she said.

“At the moment, the approach to waste is ‘take-make-use-dispose’, but this needs to change to a more circular model, where materials keep circulating within the economy at their highest value.”

Australian Council of Recycling CEO Pete Shmigel said that by moving towards a circular economy and creating market demand for recycled products, the waste industry can lead the next resources boom for Queensland, creating vital jobs and investment opportunities.

“The Queensland Government’s waste strategy is a great new bunch of carrots for better and more resource recovery,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Our industry welcomes the incentives for greater investment, and the emphasis on recycling’s economic and jobs benefits.

“We look forward to the strategy’s ‘doing’ including the right organisational structures and stakeholder partnerships.

“We’re not really recycling until we’re making and buying products from recyclate and that’s where we all need to go next.”

To view the strategy, click here.

Public consultation closes on April 5.

Queenslanders recycle 50M containers in four weeks

More than 50 million drink containers have been returned during the first month of Queensland’s container refund scheme, Containers for Change, with almost $5 million in refunds being refunded.

Within the first four weeks, more than 60,000 Queenslanders have signed up to receive the 10-cent refund, alongside the creation of more than 500 jobs to support the scheme across the state.

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Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the scheme has been a smash hit and helps reduce the number of containers that end up in landfill or as litter.

“This is a phenomenal result in only four weeks and we have to remember this is just the very beginning for Queensland’s container refund scheme, Containers for Change,” Ms Enoch said.

“Queenslanders use nearly three billion containers every year and sadly they are the second most commonly littered item in the environment, despite the fact they can be easily recycled.

“Charities and community groups are also getting involved with over 1000 having registered with the scheme, sharing in the donation of refunds, to support vital community services,” she said.

Ms Enoch also praised the efforts of the container refund operators and said the results of their work speak for themselves.

“Many of these operators are small family-run businesses and I want to congratulate these operators for their hard work in getting the refund points up and running and Queenslanders for their support,” she said.

Container Exchange CEO Ken Noye said the scheme provides opportunities for organisations to help their communities.

“It provides unprecedented opportunities for these bodies to raise funds for much-needed resources, especially smaller organisations which have to compete for funding in the not-for-profit-sector,” Mr Noye said.

“Queensland will benefit from the 500 new jobs being created around the state to implement and operate the scheme, and that’s good news for people who want to work within the scheme.”

QLD waste levy start date pushed back

The start date to the Queensland waste levy has been pushed back to 1 July 2019 and will have a higher price per tonne.

Originally scheduled to start on 4 March 2019, the waste levy will now start at $75 per tonne with the date of levy increments proposed to be moved to 1 July each year.

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Consultation about the waste levy was undertaken by the Queensland Government over several months, which found that stakeholders and local governments have asked for a later start date.

It has also committed 70 per cent of revenue raised through the levy will go towards councils, the waste industry, scheme start-up and environmental programs.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said delaying the start of the levy and changing the increment dates required the state government to adjust the waste levy rate to ensure it doesn’t fall behind other states.

“We are a consultative government and want to ensure the implementation of the waste levy is as smooth as possible for local councils, industry and for Queensland,” Ms Enoch said.

Ms Enoch also ensured Queenslanders would not have to pay more for their weekly council collections, as advanced payments would be provided to councils.

Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam said the state government has worked cooperatively with the association and is pleased to have reached a pragmatic outcome to ensure local governments are ready for the waste levy.

“A 1 July start date, even if that means a slightly higher rate, is exactly what we asked government for, and it’s good news for Queensland councils,” Mr Hallam said.

“The waste levy will help us advance toward a zero-waste future by 2035 and we thank the government for listening to our concerns about timing.”

Waste and Recycling Industry Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said he understood that more time for councils also means more time for industry to be ready and for the right regulatory structures to be put in place.

“The waste and recycling industry is getting on with the job of preparing for the waste levy and we’ll continue to work closely with the government to ensure the levy is implemented well,” Mr Ralph said.

The Queensland Government has also announced it will provide $6 million in extra funding to expand the Community Sustainability Action Grants Program to cover waste.

An additional $1 million will go towards a resource recovery Industries Roadmap and Action Plan and $6 million for a regional recycling transport assistance program.

QLD Containers for Change recycles 5M in first week

More than five million containers have been returned and recycled in the first week of Queensland’s Containers for Change container deposit scheme.

As part of the scheme, Queenslanders are able to get 10 cents back for returning bottles and cans across one of the schemes 230 sites.

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The scheme uses a mixture of over the counter depots, reverse vending machines, mobile and pop up refund points and drop off points.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said that more than half a million dollars have gone back towards Queenslanders or charities and community groups because of the scheme.

“We’ve also seen some great recycling happening in regional areas. More than 780,000 containers have been returned in Wide Bay, and more than 770,000 in Townsville,” Ms Enoch said.

“Queenslanders use nearly three billion containers a year, and sadly they are the most commonly littered item in the environment.

“This scheme has created about 500 new jobs, with people starting work at container refund points across the state,” she said.

Container Exchange (CoEx) is the company responsible for implementing and managing the scheme.

CoEx CEO Ken Noye said it was great to see more than five million containers recycled in a week.

“People are able to support local community groups by donating their containers and we encourage social purpose organisations to sign up for the scheme,” Mr Noye said.

“We also now have 27,000 people signed up with a scheme ID, allowing them to be paid their refund straight into their bank account.

“We’d love to see communities get behind Containers for Change to raise funds for schools, sporting clubs and other not-for-profits,” he said.

QLD State of the Environment report highlights interstate waste

The Queensland Government has released its 2018 State of the Environment report, highlighting interstate waste as a pressure on the state’s landfills.

Relatively low costs of landfill disposal in Queensland are said to be the motivator for cross-border flow of waste in the report.

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More than 1.26 million tonnes of domestic waste, 2.146 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste (C&D), and 1.443 million tonnes of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste was sent to landfill in 2016-17.

Of this, 53,000 tonnes of domestic waste, 640,000 tonnes of C&D waste and 23,000 tonnes of C&I waste was generated interstate and transported to Queensland landfills.

The amount of trackable waste received from interstate also increased from around 13,000 tonnes in 2011-12 to 52,200 tonnes in 2015-16.

Littering and illegal dumping is also highlighted as a serious environmental pressure, with reports suggesting the problem as widespread throughout Queensland.

The average number of litter items was found to be higher in Queensland than other Australian stats, particularly at beaches, retail strips and recreational areas.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the increase in the amount of interstate waste was proof that that Queensland needed a waste levy.

“The state government’s waste management strategy will stop interstate waste and increase investment in the industry to encourage more recycling and create jobs,” Ms Enoch said.

QLD Environment Minister opens Future Waste Resources Convention

Queensland’s Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch officially opened the Future Waste Resources Convention in Ipswich, speaking to waste and recycling industry representatives from across the state.

The minister told businesses and local councils that the state government’s priority is to work with the community and industry to reduce landfill and encourage resource recovery.

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“I’m delighted to see that industry leaders are looking to the future, and preparing to make the most of the opportunities ahead,” Ms Enoch said.

“We are in a fortunate position to have internationally competitive businesses right here in Queensland, using cutting-edge technologies and processes for turning waste into valuable and profitable, products and services.

“We want to build on that competitive advantage,” she said.

The convention, located at Ipswich’s Workshops Rail Museum, focuses on realistic solutions to current challenges.

“Changing how we manage waste in Queensland will create jobs and drive significant economic growth as we make better use of resources and develop new industries,” Ms Enoch said.

Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said the convention has brought together more than 250 attendees from across the industry, and state and local government.

“This is the largest convention of its kind in Queensland history, focussing on future waste and recycling solutions for the state,” Mr Ralph said.

“It is wonderful the convention is being held at one the oldest manufacturing centres to show the possibilities for the future.”