The NSW Government has waived the waste levy fee for residents disposing of flood generated waste in areas across the state’s north coast, Southern Highlands and Northern Tablelands that have been declared Natural Disaster Areas.
The Western Australian Government has reimbursed more than $300,000 in waste disposal levy fees to charitable recycling organisations forced to dispose of waste from illegal dumping and unusable donations.
Delivered through the state’s Waste Authority, six charitable recyclers shared in $300,357 of rebates to pay for the disposal of goods illegally dumped at their donation bins or shopfronts, as well as well-intentioned but unusable donations that cannot be recycled or reused.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the rebates will help charities meet the costs of disposing 4294 tonnes of unwanted or unusable goods to landfill.
“Most people are well-intentioned when it comes to giving their old clothes to charity but, unfortunately, charitable recyclers continue to be burdened by large amounts of dumped or unwanted donations,” he said.
“Dumping donations outside charity stores completely negates any environmental benefit you may have achieved with a successful donation, as dumped goods will ultimately end up in landfill.”
Grants have been delivered for measures such as high security donation bins and security cameras at charity shopfronts.
“I urge Western Australians to please do the right thing, especially during these uncertain times, to help our charities who assist the most vulnerable people in our community,” Dawson said.
“If your items are not good enough to give to a friend please do not give them to charity and do not dump your goods outside stores, which create a huge cost to charities to clean up.”
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.
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.
The Queensland Government has announced a six-month deferment to the waste levy increase that was set to begin on July 1 2020.
The levy has been deferred for six months due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses operating within the waste sector in QLD.
The announcement has been welcomed by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), whilst Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland (WRIQ) stated in a members notice that the timing of the landfill level deferral is disappointing.
The six-month deferment will see the waste levy remain at $75 per tonne for general waste, and $105 and $125 per tonne for regulated wastes until 31 December 2020.
QLD joins the ranks of NSW and Victoria, being the first state movers in providing some form of levy relief, the former by way of deferring waste levy payments for the foreseeable future and the latter deferring its 1 July 2020 levy increase to 1 January 2021. WA’s waste levy has also been frozen for the 2020-21 year.
The move has been praised by the WMRR and CEO Gayle Sloan has credited the QLD government “proactivity in deferring the levy increase and the Department of Environment and Science is to be commended for listening to, and considering, the very real concerns of the industry”.
“As industry continues to face financial and operational challenges related to the pandemic, WMRR is encouraged to see jurisdictions taking a commonsense approach towards costs and regulatory pressures placed on our essential industry,” Sloan said.
“In deferring the levy increase, operators and their customers may have some financial respite while continuing to focus on the job at hand, which is keeping our services operating while ensuring the safety of our staff and community.”
Sloan stated that the WMRR has recommended that only the first proposed levy increment in 2020 be deferred to provide relief to operators and their customers facing financial challenges and all later increments should continue as planned in order to safeguard ongoing investments that will build the industry.
WRIQ CEO, Mark Smith, received advice from DES on the Government’s decision to defer proposed landfill levy price increases last Friday evening on May 29, and believes the decision will impact QLD businesses and clients differently within the industry.
“This 11th hour notification is disappointing, as it provides our members and industry with minimal time to adapt and notify their supply chain of pricing impacts,” Smith said.
In response, WRIQ is collating general legal advice with WRIQ partner, Minter Ellison, to form advice and resources for its members, set to be available on Thursday June 4.
“The market works best when there is market certainty. Changing market conditions 4 weeks out from proposed increases will impact businesses differently. However in the age of Covid I recognise government need to make decisions that are best suited for the whole of Queensland,” Smith said.
He added that Post Covid, WRIQ would like to sit down with Government to determine a minimum timeframe in the event of future pricing changes.
“I respect that changes to landfill levies need to run a particular process but businesses also need to run to notify their clients and customers of the pricing changing. It would be great to bring both these processes into alignment,” he said.
The WMRR is also encouraging all future engagements with state governments.
“It is WMRR’s hope that SA will not continue to turn a blind eye to industry’s concerns and will follow in its neighbours’ footsteps by offering levy relief to operators,” Sloan said.
Last year the SA government implemented a 40 per cent levy increase, which Sloan stated was a shock announcement “with no industry consultation whatsoever and continues to place significant strain on existing projects and operations”.
“Now is the time to ease these financial pressures on operators so that we can maintain a viable industry and importantly, assist in the rebuilding of a post-COVID economy,” she said.
According to advice from DES to landfill operators, business systems and processes need to be reviewed to ensure the QLD deferral is incorporated.
“Your current levy obligations remain, including waste measurement and recording, monthly data returns and monthly invoice payments, so continue these as-normal,” the DES advised to landfill operators.
The Western Australian Government has announced a new Hazardous Household Waste (HHW) treatment facility will be due to open by the end of 2020.
A new facility for householders to safely dispose of hazardous waste such as paint, batteries and chemicals is to be opened in Fremantle, located in Perth’s metropolitan area.
Funding of $50,000 has been set aside for the facility, which will be part of the existing recycling centre at Montreal Street, Fremantle.
The program is funded through the state’s waste levy and delivered in partnership with the Waste Authority and the Western Australian Local Government Association.
The allocated $50,000 funding for the Fremantle facility will be used to build the HHW storage facility, plus purchase equipment to enable City of Fremantle staff to safely accept, handle and store the dropped off HHW materials.
The Fremantle facility will bring the number of HHW collection points in the state to 14 with nine of those in the metropolitan area.
“The Fremantle facility is expected to be operational by late 2020 and will be open to all households, not just those in Fremantle,” the state government said in a statement.
Currently the closest HHW facilities to Fremantle are in Shenton Park and Henderson, both more than 14 kilometres away.
A range of hazardous materials are accepted through the program including aerosols, batteries, paints and flares.
Stephen Dawson, WA Environment Minister, said most West Australians want to do the right thing with their waste and they want to recycle right.
“Having a facility such as the new Fremantle Hazardous Household Waste facility will provide households with a local collection point to drop off all their unwanted HHW materials and help reduce the environmental damage caused by incorrect disposal,” he said.
“Not only will the new facility provide a safe disposal method for hazardous material, it will also provide the opportunity for that material to be recycled into something useful.”
Simone McGurk, Fremantle MLA, said there are many opportunities for recycling that the region can improve upon.
“I am proud to be part of a state government that prioritises initiatives like this Household Hazardous Waste collection facility, which will enable Fremantle residents to reduce their environmental footprint by bringing less waste to landfill,” she said.
There is no charge to use HHW facilities in WA. Once collected, materials including plastic containers, batteries, fluorescent lights, gas cylinders are recycled where possible.
Materials such as flammable liquids and paint are recycled into fuel for specialist applications, and acids and alkalis are neutralised and disposed of safely.
The Western Australian Government is inviting public comment on potential reforms to guide the future of waste management in the state.
The state government has released two consultation papers – Closing the loop: waste reforms for a circular economy and Review of the waste levy – to support the implementation of its Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030.
According to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, the proposed reforms highlight the state government’s commitment to increasing resource recovery and tackling illegal waste disposal.
“The state government is committed to a cleaner and more sustainable environment. Becoming a sustainable, low waste, circular economy is key for protecting our environment for future generations,” Mr Dawson said.
Closing the loop: waste reforms for a circular economy outlines legislative proposals to improve waste management in WA including:
— Reforming landfill and solid waste storage facility licensing under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
— Reviewing waste levy application at waste facilities, including new measures to reduce long-term solid waste stockpiling.
— Targeting illegal waste disposal through new compliance and enforcement mechanisms; and
— Strengthening waste reporting and tracking to ensure proper disposal.
Alternatively, Review of the waste levy canvasses broader strategic issues related to the waste levy’s design, including geographical area and a schedule of future levy rates.
To allow time for the review to be completed, Mr Dawson said there would be no levy increase for 2020-21.
“I encourage community and industry stakeholders to consider the proposals in the two consultation papers, as their feedback will contribute to the development of approaches to improve waste management,” he said.
The Queensland Government will provide $143 million in advance payments to councils, to assist with waste levy transition costs.
The levy, which began 1 July, applies to most commercial and industrial waste going to landfill – starting at $75 per tonne.
“We are sticking by our commitment that ratepayers will not have to pay more to put out their wheelie bins or take a load of rubbish to the tip because of the waste levy,” Ms Enoch said.
“We are providing $143 million in advance payments to councils to ensure they don’t have to pass on the cost to ratepayers.”
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the government’s new Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy presents a vision for Queensland to become a zero-waste society.
“Queensland is generating waste faster than we are growing in population and this needs to be addressed,” Ms Enoch said.
“The new waste levy will do that, and help attract investment, develop new industries and products, and grow jobs across the state in the resource recovery sector.”
The South Australian Government’s decision to increase the solid waste levy from $100 to $140 from 1 January 2020 has left the waste industry ‘blindsided’, according to the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR.)
WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said while industry supports government action that promotes resource recovery and market development, progress is not as simple as increasing landfill levies.
“Industry was prepared for the original $3 increase, however it has been blindsided by this new amount of $40, which is far greater than planned,” Ms Sloan said.
“The timing and notice of this new levy increase is completely unsatisfactory and does not allow businesses and local government with locked in 2019-20 budgets to prepare for the additional cost.”
According to Ms Sloan, South Australia was previously leading the way in resource recovery, though a blend of policy, guidelines and levy drivers that precluded the requirement for excessive cost structures.
“Part of the reason for South Australia’s success is the strong working relationship between all sectors of industry and the existence of a high-level advisory group to government,” Ms Sloan said.
“The fact that the levy increase was not discussed with this advisory group is extremely disappointing.”
According to Ms Sloan, the levy increase comes in addition to a raft of new and increased costs including increased licensing fees and new financial assurance requirements.
“South Australia should look to Queensland as a model for implementing such a rapid change in levy amount,” Ms Sloan said.
“The Queensland government also looked to implement such a change on 1 January, however this was moved and a years notice given, with mechanisms put in place to manage such a large impact on councils and households.”
Ms Sloan said while WMRR agrees landfill levies are an integral part of a successful waste and resource recovery policy framework, it cannot be the only response from government.
“Such a large increase, without policy support, has a real potential to lead to unintended outcomes such as illegal dumping,” Ms Sloan said.
“A good levy is a certain levy, with telegraphed changes that industry can plan for and respond to.”
The Queensland 2019-20 budget estimates the state’s new waste levy will raise $432.6 million over the next year.
Commencing 1 July 2019, the levy will apply to most commercial and industrial waste going to landfill – starting at $75 per tonne.
State treasurer Jackie Trad has allocated $30.1 million towards implementing the levy, including funding allocations for levy operation and compliance policy.
An additional $143.5 million has been allocated for grant payments to assist local councils implement the change.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said improving waste management continues to be a priority for state government.
“This year’s budget will see expenditure for key programs funded from the waste levy, including programs to support small businesses and the construction industry to improve their waste practices and further investment in grants for environmental projects,” Ms Enoch said.
The budget has also allocated $5 million towards implementing waste reform, under a new waste management and resource recovery strategy.
The draft waste management and resource recovery strategy, released earlier this year, has set a recycling rate target of 75 per cent for all waste types by 2050.
The strategy allocation includes $4 million to remove car bodies and scrap metal from islands in the Torres Strait and $1 million over two years for the development of a waste management data strategy for Queensland.
Ms Enoch said improving waste data management was a crucial part of implementing waste management reforms in the state.
“The strategy will guide decisions on future waste infrastructure needs and opportunities for investment in resource recovery and recycling,” Ms Enoch said.
The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has called on the NSW Government to direct waste levy funds collected in the region to sustainable waste management programs for western Sydney.
According to WSROC President Barry Calvert, the NSW Government has reinvested only $20 million of the $225 million collected from western Sydney waste levies over the last five years.
“Each year councils pay the NSW Government a significant levy on waste sent to landfill, the aim of the levy is admirable – to discourage landfill and encourage recycling and reuse – however, only a small percentage is actually used for this purpose.
“Government should be using waste levy money for the purpose it was collected – to promote a more sustainable waste sector,” he said.
Levy rates for NSW are $81.30 per tonne in regional areas and $141.20 per tonne in metropolitan areas like western Sydney.
Mr Calvert said given that western Sydney processes the majority of the cities waste, improving recycling and resource recovery in the area is critical.
“We should be seeing $234 million invested in helping councils adapt to the new market conditions caused by the China National Sword Policy, investing in the development of local recycling markets and waste processing infrastructure, and implementing measures to reduce waste generation,” Mr Calvert said.
The state governments half yearly budget review, released late last year, showed the treasury collected $769 million in 2017-18.
At the Save Our Recycling Election Summit earlier the year Local Government NSW voiced similar concerns, calling for 100 per cent of waste levy funds to be re-invested into sustainable waste management initiatives for the state.