NSW Govt short sighted in realising economic potential of recovery

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has labelled the NSW State Budget ‘short sighted’, with the real economic potential of the waste and resource recovery industry being bypassed for a reliance on landfill levies.

Read moreNSW Govt short sighted in realising economic potential of recovery

Industry responds to QLD Energy from Waste policy

The Queensland Government has released its highly anticipated Energy from Waste (EfW) policy following a webinar with the state’s Environment Minister, Leeanne Enoch.

Enoch hosted a ‘lunch with the Queensland Environment Minister’ via zoom last week due to social distancing restrictions, to announce the EfW policy and how it will play a key role within the waste and resource recovery system across the state.

The EfW policy aims to capture embodied energy from residual materials that would otherwise have been landfilled, as Queensland transitions towards a circular economy.

Enoch gave a candid update of the current state of play in Queensland, noted that the policy aligns with both the waste management hierarchy as well as Queensland’s strategic priorities, and provides industry with certainty on how EfW will be regulated and assessed in the state.

As well as establishing an EfW hierarchy to address the differing technologies available, the policy outlines seven outcomes to guide proponents on how environmental authority applications for EfW facilities will be assessed and regulated, detailing requirements that will need to be met to demonstrate operational performance of proposed facilities.

Gayle Sloan, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association Australia (WMRR) CEO, said QLD’s EfW policy is a “very sensible and well considered document”.

She said EfW draws on international best practice, resisting the temptation that WMRR have seen in other Australian jurisdictions to create poorly thought out interventions that impact confidence and investment.

“The release of the document is a positive step towards offering EfW proponents some much-needed certainty, offering clear pathways to EfW, and importantly, a clear expectation about community engagement and social license,” Sloan said.

“All these steps are pivotal in rebuilding the economy and creating local jobs in the post-COVID world that we are building.”

Mark Smith, Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) CEO, agrees that the EfW policy provides an important building block for the Queensland waste and resource recovery sector and importantly sets out expectations from government to market.

However, Smith said a key challenge for state and local government and the private sector, who are the largest funders of infrastructure in Queensland and Australia, will be how the changes and improvements to waste and recycling management is communicated to the Queensland community.

“Recent research from CSIRO tells us that in order for community to trust and accept upgrades to waste facilities or new facilities being establish, is their confidence in the industry and their confidence in the government bodies regulating the sector,” he said.

“WRIQ is committed to improving the sector’s public brand and wants to ensure our members are supported by government when they decide to make investments to support the Queensland economy.”

Smith said it’s really important that government understand and recognise their role in building community awareness around the “role our sector plays in maintaining the economy and maintaining our way of life”.

WRIQ has congratulated the Queensland Government for releasing the policy and the commitment to releasing further guidance at the end of the year.

Sloan said that WMRR also appreciates the Queensland Department of Environment and Science’s (DES) strong engagement with the industry in the establishment of this policy.

“We look forward to the development of further detail on how industry can meet EfW requirements in Queensland, utilising what we know is international best practice, including the EU Waste Directives,” she said.

Smith said WRIQ will reach out to DES to also support the development process of the policy.

According to WMRR, during the webinar, Enoch also reassured attendees that resource recovery is at the forefront of many of the government’s decisions, acknowledging that the essential waste and resource recovery sector is a vital stakeholder and contributor to Queensland’s post-COVID economic recovery, particularly as the industry will be able to provide home grown manufacturing opportunities.

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Industry responds to QLD waste levy deferment

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.

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