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.

QLD recycling and waste report highlights need for action

A report released by the Queensland Government shows an increase in the amount of waste from interstate sources in the last financial year, while Queensland’s reported waste generation also exceeded 10 million tonnes for the first time.

The Recycling and Waste in Queensland 2018 was released this week at the National Waste Recycling Industry Council quarterly meeting.

The Recycling and Waste in Queensland report is prepared annually based on data supplied by local governments, the waste and resource recovery industry and recyclers across the state.

The report shows that in 2017-18, 10.9 million tonnes of headline waste was reported with a 45 per cent recovery rate. Of this, 82 per cent of materials were recovered in Queensland. In addition, the report shows a 37 per cent increase in waste from interstate sources.

The overall recovery rate increased slightly from the previous financial year by 0.9 per cent.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the report demonstrated the urgency needed to improve Queensland’s waste management.

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“This report provides a snapshot of how waste and recyclables were managed, recovered and disposed of in 2017–18 financial year,” Ms Enoch said.

“Alarmingly, more than 1.2 million tonnes of waste was trucked over the border into Queensland in 2017-18.

“If you lined up all of these trucks, the line would stretch from Brisbane to past Mackay.”

“The Palaszczuk Government is moving ahead with its comprehensive waste management strategy, which is underpinned by a waste levy that is proposed to begin on July 1 this year. This will stop the trucks and create incentives to divert waste away from landfill while encouraging more recycling and resource recovery initiatives.”

Ms Enoch said the Recycling and Waste in Queensland 2018 report also showed Queensland generated nearly 11 million tonnes of waste in 2017-18, which was an increase of 1.1 million tonnes compared to the previous year.

“This represented an 11 per cent increase, which is concerning when you consider our population only grew by 1.6 per cent in the same time period,” she said.

Ms Enoch said it was promising to see recycling rates increase, but there was still room for improvement.

“In 2017-18, Queenslanders increased their recycling effort for household and business wastes by 580,000 tonnes, resulting in close to five million tonnes of materials being diverted from landfill.

“However, we still recycle only 45 per of the waste we generate, which needs to change.”

Rick Ralph, Chief Executive Officer, Waste Recycling Industry Association said that the waste and recycling industry in Queensland is looking forward with confidence.

“With government reforms to policy and regulation, industry can invest which will create new jobs by increasing the states resource recovery performance,” Mr Ralph said.

You can read the full report here.

 

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.

Queensland Government establishes #odourbusters taskforce

The Queensland Government has established a taskforce to deal with nuisance odours in the Swanbank area.

The Odour Abatement Taskforce, also known as #odourbusters, will operate from a local base at Redbank Plains to crack down on offensive odours and other environmental concerns in the area for the next 12 months.

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Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the state government was investing 2.5 million in the program to respond to community concerns raised through an independent community survey this year.

“With the information received from 1435 local residents, we have moved swiftly to establish a taskforce of 10 specialist environmental officers,” Ms Enoch said.

“The team will be dedicated to investigating and responding to issues raised by the community.”

Ms Enoch said the community survey addressed waste management, air quality and water management issues within the Swanbank industrial area.

“Part of our response will be to introduce new technologies to monitor air, noise and water quality in Ipswich suburbs,” she said.

“In addition to on-the-ground investigations, the Odour Abatement Taskforce will intensively examine and review current industry regulation and practice.”

Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard said the Queensland Government will have a strong focus on and interaction with the Swanbank industrial area.

“In the past year, the Department of Environment and Science has received 302 reports of odour from 167 people alleging bad smells from landfill and waste recycling facilities in the Swanbank industrial area,” she said.

“Rest assured, we have some of the highest environmental standards in the world and Queensland has a strong record when it comes to compliance.”

Member for Ipswich West Jim Madden said the Palaszczuk Government ensured there was always strong compliance when it comes to waste management issues.

“Over the last financial year, the state’s environmental regulator carried out more than 7250 compliance checks state-wide to ensure our high environmental standards are met,” he said.

“Of these, 855 compliance checks were conducted in the Ipswich area.

For more information on the #odourbusters, click here.

Lighting Council Australia relaunch product stewardship scheme

Lighting Council Australia (LCA) is relaunching the industry-led battery recycling program, Exitcycle, with support from the Queensland Government to improve the recycling rates of emergency and exit lights.

The voluntary product stewardship initiative developed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and LCA was launched in 2015 as a 12-month pilot project to provide guidance on issues impacting recycling batteries from metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

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Commercial users commit to recycling at least 95 per cent of their end of life emergency and exit lighting batteries as part of the program, while facilitators commit to promoting the scheme to users of these batteries.

LCA National Marketing and Environment Manager Roman Gowor said the program brings industry, government, and community together to improve environmental outcomes, noting that there are approximately 30 million emergency and exit lights across the country.

“The majority of the green-emergency lights we see across all buildings are powered by a combination of older battery technologies, which often use cadmium, nickel metal hydride or sealed lead acid,” Mr Gowor said.

“In the coming years, newer generation batteries will use more sustainable components, however multiple sectors—government, industry and end users— must work together to find the best way of increasing recycling rates.”

The program will be launched at the Queensland Parliament House in Brisbane, with attendees including recyclers, government officials and the lighting industry.

“The Exitcycle approach is successful because it is very well suited at addressing the specific waste issue,” Mr Gowor said.

“Unlike a great proportion of batteries used across the economy, emergency and exit lights are not typically used in households and, by law, can only be serviced by electrical contractors. The Exitcycle program is more targeted than other programs and focuses on electricians and facility and building managers,” he said.

Queensland Government releases waste directions paper

The Queensland Government has released a directions paper for public consultation to inform the development of its new waste strategy, proposing the cost structure of its new landfill levy and its application.

The directions paper proposes that a general waste levy will commence in the first quarter of 2019 and initially will be set at $70 per tonne of general waste sent to landfill. It says it will increase by $5 per year. According to the directions paper, the rate has been suggested to avoid the high rate in the Sydney metropolitan area of $138.20.

“A high levy rate would create a shock to the market and the current resource recovery infrastructure capacity may struggle to meet high demand to divert material from landfill disposal,” it says.

“However, $70 per tonne is still considered to be high enough to send an appropriate price signal to the market and will act as an immediate incentive to divert heavier materials, such as concrete, from landfill.”

“It is broadly in line with the rates in Victoria and South Australia, and would provide a strong market signal to divert waste from landfill without the market shock of a rate in line with NSW.

“It provides a disincentive to transport a significant proportion of interstate waste to Queensland.”

According to the paper, the legislative and regulatory framework, including a detailed levy model, needs to be drafted, consulted on with stakeholders and progressed through the required approval processes. It notes landfill infrastructure, such as weighbridges and security fencing, needs to be made ‘levy-ready’. The paper goes on to say that industry and government information technology systems need to be redeveloped and made able to ‘interface’ with each other so waste can be measured and the levy owed to be calculated. Furthermore, staff training and broader awareness and education needs to be developed and delivered. Stakeholders will be consulted throughout the process.

The report highlights that local government will be a beneficiary of the proposed levy with funding available for waste disposal infrastructure upgrades, education and awareness and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The operator of a waste disposal facility will be required to collect the levy when the waste is presented to the facility for disposal,” the paper says.

“A waste disposal facility may be operated by, or on behalf of, a local government or by a private company. The operator of the facility is required to remit the amount of levy owed, at a timing, and through a process, to be determined in legislation. Operators will also be required to submit data in relation to the waste received at the site for disposal and what was received and segregated for recovery.”

It says that to be effective, the levy will need to apply to all waste. It recognises special circumstances may require some waste to be exempt, including waste from a natural disaster, wastes where disposal is required by a regulation, such as asbestos, quarantine waste or fire ant infested material, litter and illegally dumped waste collected by a council, community group or other organised participant, in an initiative, such as Clean Up Australia Day. Waste received as part of donations will also be exempt.

A Stakeholder Advisory Group is currently in the process of contributing to the development of the waste strategy and is reviewing the directions paper. It will continue to provide input and advice to government.

The Stakeholder Advisory Group consists of representatives from across the waste industry and key business groups, including Local Government Association of Queensland, Australian Council of Recycling, Waste Recycling Industry Association (Queensland), Waste Management Association of Australia, Sustainable Business Australia, Australian Industry Group, Chamber of Commerce Industry Queensland and Master Builders Association Queensland.

Acting Premier Jackie Trad said the directions paper would inform the development of its new waste management strategy – underpinned by a waste levy.

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Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the directions paper set out the Queensland Government’s long-term vision to attract investment, develop new industries and grow jobs across the state in the waste and recycling sector.

Ms Enoch said that, as well as encouraging recycling, the waste levy would facilitate job creation and market development, particularly in regional areas.

“While every 10,000 tonnes of waste disposed into landfill supports less than three full time jobs, the same amount of waste being recycled supports more than nine jobs.

“This price signal will give industry the confidence to invest in alternative and innovative recycling technologies to grow the sector and create jobs.

“This new strategy marks the start of the journey towards a zero waste future.”

The directions paper also proposes the following targets:

• 20 per cent avoidable waste disposed of to landfill by 2030
• 10 per cent avoidable waste disposed of to landfill by 2040
• Zero avoidable waste disposed of to landfill by 2050

The paper indicates the department has already undertaken preliminary work to identify waste that may be feasible for landfill disposal bans, including tyres and e-waste.

“Landfill disposal bans on these waste streams will support the objectives of existing product stewardship programs that already have well-established collection and recovery networks,” it said.

The Queensland Government also plans to look at waste to energy, according to the paper.

The Transforming Queensland’s Recycling and Waste Industry directions paper is available here, with public comment open until 28 June 2018.

Long term national waste solution must be prioritised: QLD forum

Queensland Government Environment Minister Leanne Enoch has called for a national solution for the waste and recycling industry at the Queensland Secondary Resources Forum.

Ms Enoch said that the state’s domestic recycling capabilities were under pressure following China’s decision on waste imports.

The Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) is hosting the two-day Queensland Secondary Resources Forum to address issues impacting kerbside recycling and international challenges.

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Queensland Forum to discuss China waste ban

“Today I am meeting with representatives from local government and the waste industry in Bundaberg to discuss practical opportunities in local communities.

“I want to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and group dialogue on smarter, innovative options to better manage, reuse and recycle waste.”

Ms Enoch said Thursday’s meeting provided an opportunity for stakeholders to share local challenges when it comes to waste, and discuss improved systems and processes.

“While there are many challenges to overcome, there is also an opportunity to facilitate local solutions and growing domestic markets that reduce our reliance on exports.”

She said improvements at a local level could help the federal government in their work towards a national long-term solution.

“I look forward to taking local feedback from the Bundaberg forum to my meeting with state and serritory environment ministers tomorrow, and I also look forward to hearing what the Federal Government has to say about the best way forward for the recycling industry,” Ms Enoch said.

Last month the Queensland Government announced it would develop a new resource recovery and waste management strategy, underpinned by a waste levy, following recommendations from the report from Justice Peter Lyons.

Waste Recycling Industry Queensland Chief Executive Officer Rick Ralph said a national approach was needed and that there was an opportunity for Australia to re-focus on how we manage waste.

“We need to re-set our position when it comes to waste management and recycling across Australia, particularly when it comes to re-manufacturing,” he said.

“Today’s meeting in Bundaberg is important as it allows us to open up the discussion even further.

“We need to rebuild community confidence when it comes to recycling, and we also need to hear from other stakeholders about how we can work together towards a solution for the short, medium and long term.”