Billion-dollar Queensland WARR package a win for community, environment, and industry

11 December 2021

The Queensland government’s $2.1 billion dollar investment in waste and resource recovery (WARR) is testament to government’s commitment to, and ambition in, driving the industry to great new heights, and it is welcomed and supported by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR).

The government announced the new 10-year package this morning, which includes a $1.1 billion Recycling and Jobs Fund, a plan to taper off advanced payments to councils, bring the levy in the south east corner up to par with NSW, and reinvest levy monies to grow the state’s WARR capabilities and capacity.

“This is a plan that will secure Queensland’s environmental and economic future over the decade. It is well thought through and considered, as seen in the government’s intent to create transition pathways to assist local government as the advanced payment gradually reduces from 105% to 20% over the next 10 years,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“A waste disposal levy is an important economic tool to divert waste from landfill, incentivise resource recovery and create jobs and investment in Queensland. Gradually sunsetting the advanced payment to councils will eliminate the unintended consequence of the current local government rebate structure - the disincentive to reduce waste. Instead, this move will drive genuine resource recovery, and therefore encourage investment in the reuse of resources, including in the regional areas.

“The government’s plan - backed by significant funding - to foster new industries by maximising co-investment to deliver strategic, diverse, and innovative WARR technologies and infrastructure, is also strongly supported as it will no doubt boost local economies and grow jobs,” Ms Sloan added.

“We congratulate the government for taking a long-term view on WARR in its planning policies, and in doing so, providing industry and local government with certainty to build, grow, and drive change in order to meet the state’s ambitious targets of 80% of all waste streams diverted from landfill by 2030.”

The government has also reviewed its levy rate, announcing it will increase the annual rate by $10 per tonne in 12 southeast Queensland councils areas till 2028, ensuring the levy is comparable to NSW, and increasing the rate by CPI in the remaining 27 regional council areas in 2022-23.

“WMRR has always said that for a waste levy to be most effective in supporting resource recovery, it should generally be above $100 per tonne as a low rate can act as a barrier to resource recovery activities, given landfilling would be comparatively cheap. It is pleasing to see that the government is increasing its waste levy rate and plans to use the monies to drive greater reinvestment in WARR infrastructure. Further, the proposed rate in south east Queensland will put these areas on par with NSW, closing the door further on unnecessary interstate waste transportation.

“Moving forward, WMRR believes there is merit in creating a dedicated and transparent fund - as opposed to consolidated revenue - to manage collected levy monies and reinvest these funds back to industry. All in all, we congratulate the government on taking these bold steps and look forward to continued engagement as we move towards our shared vision of developing and growing a circular economy in Queensland,” Ms Sloan said.