A number of major stakeholders have put forward their submissions to a federal government inquiry into Australia’s waste and recycling industry.
The inquiry looks to investigate issues related to landfill, markets for recycled waste and the role of the federal government in providing a coherent approach to the management of solid waste. Submissions have now closed for the inquiry, which will report its findings by November 29.
The diverse range of stakeholders range from recycling companies such as Envorinex and TIC Group, to industry figureheads such as the Australian Landfill Owners Association and the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council. Local and state governments from across the nation have also put forward submissions.
Brisbane City Council in its submission commented on the landfill levy issue. Queensland currently has no landfill levy in place, and has faced issues of interstate waste transport from NSW where the levy is more than $70 a tonne. With several views on the matter, Brisbane City Council argued a levy must be at least $50 per tonne to change behaviour.
“Any landfill levy introduced in Queensland (orregions within the State) will have a net cost to ratepayers. Council is reluctant to act as a tax collector for the Queensland Government,” they noted.
“Funds collected through a landfill levy must be hypothecated to the waste and resource recovery sectors (including local government) in the first five to 10 years post levy introduction to ensure the sector is robust and able to provide genuine alternatives to landfill.”
The council also added a levy is likely to increase the risk of illegal dumping and levy funds would need to be allocated to manage activities such as clean-up, waste education and enforcement.
The Australian Landfill Owners Association responded to the terms of reference by advocating its support for the diversion of solid waste for recycling when an improved environmental outcome is derived. It also noted all waste that is landfilled should be directed to well managed and environmentally compliant activities, while also calling for the federal government to harmonise legislation to prevent the unnecessary transportation of waste across state borders.
“ALOA wishes to re-iterate the role that appropriately managed, environmentally compliant and properly licenced landfills perform within a broad waste management system serving a modern society,” the submission read.
“Landfills of this type are key pieces of essential infrastructure serving a vital role in the safe and efficient disposal of a wide range of wastes.”
The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council in its submission argued for the returning of funding to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Waste Accounts program – discontinued in 2014. The council also focused on high standards for the accreditation and management of landfills, the harmonisation of landfill levies and suggestions to improve resource recovery and recycling, among a host of other recommendations.
You can read all of the industry’s submissions in full here.