Industry welcomes Queensland action on interstate waste
The waste and recycling industry strongly supports the reintroduction of a waste levy in Queensland to grow recycling in the state and limit the continuing movement of over a million tonnes of waste from Sydney to south-eastern Queensland.
MRA Consulting Group managing director Mike Ritchie says, “I congratulate Premier Palaszczuk and Environment Minister Enoch on their (Tuesday 20 March) announcement that the government will reintroduce a QLD landfill levy.
“More than 20,000 unnecessary truck movements per year are occurring on the Pacific Highway just as a means of arbitraging the different levy regimes between Queensland and New South Wales,” Ritchie says. “The new government is to be congratulated for acting so quickly after the election to fix this problem.
“There is no justification for more than one million tonnes per year of Sydney waste to be dumped in south-eastern Queensland just because of government policy,” he continues.
The arbitrage arises because of the absence of a levy in Queensland combined with large cheap landfill voids in the Ipswich area. Unfortunately, the Ipswich Council is powerless to prevent the trucks coming up from Sydney.
“It has to be a government mechanism,” Ritchie says. “It also has to avoid falling foul of Section 92 of the Constitution, which allows for free trade between states. A Queensland landfill levy does just that.
“The proposed levy provides for improved recycling rates in Queensland, currently one of the lowest rates in Australia at only 38 percent compared to 60 to 80 percent for all other mainland states. It sends a clear market signal. If you are a waste generator and don’t want to pay the levy, then recycle. Simple.”
“The levy must be designed to change recycling behaviour,” Ritchie says. “It should not be designed solely to stop waste from New South Wales. That is a benefit but not a justification. The levy is about driving the jobs growth that comes from recycling instead of landfill. We create three times as many jobs in recycling as we do in landfill per tonne of waste.”
Ritchie called for the Queensland government to apply the levy to all waste into Queensland landfills (including household waste) but to hypothecate a significant proportion back to local government, to both compensate them and also to provide funds to innovate in waste services and reprocessing.
“The simplest way to apply the levy is on all waste. An exemption for large council garbage trucks would be another way to exempt local councils, but this also reduces their incentive to recycle, innovate and grow jobs,” Ritchie says.
First published on The Tipping Point by MRA Consulting.
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