QLD waste levy: WMAA addresses committee in Ipswich

CEO of the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA), Gayle Sloan, was in Ispwich today, representing industry in a public hearing on Queensland’s Waste Reduction and Recycling (Waste Levy) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill.

WMAA is supportive of the State Government’s plan to re-introduce the landfill levy as it creates a much-needed economic incentive to divert waste from landfill.

“Queensland is one of the largest generators of waste, increasing by about 24% from 2006/07 to 2014/15. Yet it is one of the poorest diverters of waste from landfill in Australia, currently diverting only 48% from landfill,” Ms Sloan said at the hearing, adding that while a landfill levy is not a silver bullet, it is certainly a proven economic tool that should be used as part of a suite of Government instruments and levers.

“A landfill levy is a proven economic tool that supports diversion targets. It’s not the total solution and can’t fix our throw away society by itself, but it is one cog in a strategic waste strategy that Queensland needs and is developing with the recently released ‘Transforming Queensland’s Recycling and Waste Industry directions paper,” Ms Sloan said.

WMAA has developed a submission to the Bill, which Ms Sloan reiterated at the hearing. She emphasised that the Bill will allow Queensland to catch up with the rest of Australia and the developed world in moving towards a circular economy, which will have numerous positive impacts on the State’s economic, environmental, and social health.

“We strongly believe that this industry will be the next resources boom for Queensland, creating jobs and investment that have not previously been viable due to the lack of a levy and a strong plan for Queensland,” Ms Sloan said.

“It is important to acknowledge that the waste and resource recovery industry, is in fact, a resource manager. As such, we must move rapidly away from a linear approach to managing waste and support the waste management hierarchy. Queensland can do this by supporting industry to deliver the prescribed outcomes by creating certain regulatory and policy settings, and ensuring the investment of levy monies in the waste and resource recovery industry and community.”

There are compelling reasons to encourage the development of a secondary manufacturing industry. For one, 9.2 jobs are created for every 10,000 tonnes recycled. And WMAA is pleased to see that the Queensland Government is on the same page.

“The Queensland levy regime has more incentives and discounts to incentivise the use of recycled material than any other regime in Australia. This is a clear attempt to incentivise the use of these materials in manufacturing and make these competitive with virgin material, for which the Queensland Government must be congratulated,” Ms Sloan said.

WMAA is now urging the Government to consider recommendations raised by industry ahead of the levy roll-out to ensure the opportunities that will arise from a landfill levy are fully maximised.

“Queensland needs to think about a whole-of-government approach to our essential industry, including using levy funding to replicate the approach to market development taken by both Victoria and SA, with market development agencies such as Sustainability Victoria and Green Industries SA,” Ms Sloan said.

“We cannot simply regulate our way to success; we need to develop markets and demand for recycled product in Queensland.”

WMAA also highlighted several areas that should be addressed before the Act is adopted, including the $5 million ‘levy readiness’ grant funding, which WMAA wants extended to all industry participants.

“The challenges in meeting the 4 March 2019 levy start date, including infrastructure upgrades and fee changes, are not unique to local government. This funding should be offered on a 100% basis to all; we need to end the days of a two-speed economy in Queensland” Ms Sloan said, adding, “Any adjustment to the levy should also occur in line with financial year and not calendar year to avoid duplication of resources.”

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