Advice to QLD businesses following Gov policy changes

Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) has released advice following the state Government’s release of QLD’s Energy from Waste Policy and its decision to defer the landfill waste levy.

Mark Smith, WRIQ CEO said the QLD Government has had to make tough decisions in the wake of Covid19 and that’s included deferral of the landfill levy.

“Responding to this we’ve put advice together with the support of one of Australia’s leading law firms, Minter Ellison, so our members are supported to adapt to this recent announcement,” he said.

The association, in collaboration with Minter Ellison, has released a two page alert for its members following the state Government’s new developments that will impact landfill operators across QLD.

“I don’t want to see rogue operators exploiting the situation and one of the ways industry and government can reduce this is both of us playing a role in communicating about expectations and changes and that’s what we’ve done with this advice,” Mark said.

In its advice to WRIQ members, the alert states that the announcement of a six-month deferment to the waste levy increase that was set to begin on July 1 2020, may also impact on the entities who use landfill facilities, depending on how their payment arrangements with landfill operators are structured.

WRIQ advised members that the amounts for the waste levy are set out in Schedule 1 of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011 for the foreseeable financial years until 2022.

“The waste levy will therefore remain at $75 per tonne for general waste, $105 per tonne for category 2 regulated waste, and $155 per tonne for category 1 regulated waste, until 31 December 2020,” the alert to WRIQ members states.

It was initially proposed $5 per tonne increases across all categories of waste, effective 1 July in each financial year, however the effect of the Government’s proposed change will be to defer the increase for the 2020-21 financial year to commence on 1 January 2021.

WRIQ advises members to consider proposing a variation to the contract, or consider whether ‘change of law’ clauses apply.

WRIQ advice to members

One reason for landfill operators to review their contractual arrangements in light of the deferral is because of the requirement under section 72K of the WRR Act that in order to claim ‘bad debt credits’ back from the State, should your customers become insolvent in the future and not pay, the ‘service delivery charge’ excluding GST imposed on the insolvent customer must not have been more than the waste levy at the relevant time, the alert stated.

The association said members need to take necessary steps for a manual override for six month and any misrepresentations in standard documentation should be corrected when the deferral occurs.

In its advice to local governments, WRIQ said they will need to factor this in to any budgetary decisions made on the assumption of an increased levy, and ensure that any representations made about the amount of the levy in relevant materials provided to ratepayers, including on all websites are correct.

Smith said industry feedback is welcome and he is encouraging any business operating in Queensland’s waste and resource recovery sector to take part in its regulator survey.

“This information collected provides us an evidence base to encourage better alignment with government processes and commercial realities around a number of factors including proposed changes to landfill pricing the notification period given to businesses,” he said.

WRIQ has also received advice from the QLD Minister for Environment, Leeanne Enoch, and the association is taking steps to organise more detailed explanation of the policy to its members.

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Infrastructure Victoria releases interim waste report

Infrastructure Victoria has published its interim report to the Victorian Government on the infrastructure required to support a changing recycling and resource recovery sector.

According to Infrastructure Victoria CEO Michel Masson, Victoria’s total waste generation nearly doubled between 2000 and 2018, growing from 7.4 million tonnes to 13.4 millions tonnes each year. Mr Masson said stockpiling and illegal dumping are now significant concerns.

Despite this, Mr Masson said after a thorough investigation of the recycling and resource recovery sector, Infrastructure Victoria has identified exciting opportunities for investment, new processes and community action.

“To waste less and recycle more, governments, communities and businesses all need to play their parts. We have all learnt to use less water and power, now we have to apply the same principles to waste,” Mr Masson said.

The report specifically outlines that further investment in organic processing is needed to divert food and garden waste from landfill and reduce methane gas emissions.

“Infrastructure Victoria has identified the food and garden waste should go to more high quality composting facilities, which would need to be supported by a rollout of household organics collection services,” Mr Masson said.

Victoria’s current co-mingled system does not produce sufficiently clean streams to support end markets for recycled materials, according to the report.

“Greater separation of waste in homes and businesses can reduce contamination and improve the quality of our recycling,” the report reads.

“Infrastructure Victoria’s consumer research demonstrates 90 per cent of households surveyed are open to changing how they sort their waste.”

Report findings show best practice jurisdictions separate at least five types of material at the source, including organics, plastics, paper and card, glass and metals.

While multiple calls have been made to introduce a container deposit scheme in Victoria, the preliminary view of the report is that more analysis is needed on how to design an optimal scheme for Victoria.

The report also calls for improved commercial and industrial recycling standards.

“Incentives and price signals need to be examined to improve performance across the board, from manufacturers to retail,” the report reads.

Initiatives to disincentivise the use of virgin materials in production, or promote the procurement of products made from recycled materials, were also highlighted.

Proposed actions include:

Developing a clear, overarching policy framework including recycling targets and waste-to-energy.

Supporting councils to implement more consistent approaches to sorting and collecting waste, helping to reduce contamination in household recycling collection.

Better planning, locating and protecting waste management sites.

Working with the Commonwealth and other states to reduce packaging and single use plastics.

Increasing the use of recycled materials by eliminating barriers and updating government procurement guidelines.

Infrastructure Victoria will deliver its final report on recycling and resource recovery infrastructure in April 2020.

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NSW EPA to develop 20-year waste strategy

The NSW EPA, in partnership with Infrastructure NSW, is developing a 20-year waste strategy for the state.

The strategy aims to set a 20-year vision for reducing waste, driving sustainable recycling markets and identifying and improving the state and regional waste infrastructure network.

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It will also aim to provide the waste industry with certainty and set goals and incentives to ensure the correct infrastructure decisions are made to meet community needs.

Stakeholders, including local government, industry experts and the broader community, will work with the EPA over the next six months to provide an evidence base and address the key priorities for the waste and resource recovery sector.

This will include examining similar waste strategies in Australia and around the world.

A long-term vision and roadmap will include new long-term goals for waste generation and landfill diversion, new policy positions and strategic decisions that aim to avoid waste and improve resource recovery, and a plan for new or enhanced policies to improve waste collection.

A framework for the delivery of an integrated state network will be part of the roadmap, along with aims to align policy and regulation to achieve long term strategic objectives and a plan to strengthen data quality and access.

The strategy is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

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