Waste Levy – Update

Levy - Recycling

Queensland Waste Levy 2019 – 2020

The Queensland Government Waste Levy commenced on the 1st July 2019. At the time I said… let’s make no bones about it, rubbish is going to get expensive. The price to dispose of waste is 2 – 4 times the current rates. We saw a price rise of 10 – 40% on the service we provide based solely on the increase of disposal fees as a direct result of the levy.  As an example a 6 m bin which is a very common size. The disposal fee at a metre rate (heavier materials) increased $260 dollars. This increased the price of a 6 m bin from $350 to $610.

We are now coming to the end of the first year of the levy.  My observations are that there has only been a minimal decrease in waste going to landfill. Of the materials being sorted for recycling the stockpiles are growing. I am aware that disposals site continue the practice of pushing waste into landfill with very little actually being recycled. The few exceptions are an increase in the focus on timber, concrete and green waste.

Creating a Level Playing Field

If all states have a levy and if the PRIMARY reason for the levy is to change behaviors what is the optimal price point to achieve this? An industry insider from NSW shared with me that he felt that $90 a tonne would achieve this. Whilst there is a significant difference between the cost of waste in Queensland and the Southern States waste will continue to come north.

Levy = Revenue

If  a levy is about changing behavior and not REVENUE then the states could agree to set a price to achieve this. If its about revenue there is no reason to do this.SA is the poster child for recycling in Australia. The Government has announced a price hike on levy rates for 2020. Why would this be necessary if the outcomes are being achieved, if it’s not about revenue?

Reduce the Levy in NSW

Solution… reduce the NSW Levy! After all, in 30 years the levy has not achieved its intended outcomes. The number of trucks coming across borders is testament to this and in 2020 they are still coming. Create a level playing field and remove the incentive to come North! Simple – get the states to agree to one levy price and lets get on with life. I know, to simple for a politicians brain. The matter is why would NSW give up millions of dollars of revenue that goes into consolidate revenue and very little back into progressing waste reduction.

Meaningful Change

Rose Read in Inside Waste April/May 2019 noted that what’s lacking is the political will at all levels to drive meaningful change. To expect governments and their departments to understand an industry at a local, national and international level can only be done by numbers. Unfortunately numbers do not allow a full understanding of waste that comes from every aspect of modern life.

I don’t have a crystal ball however I guarantee that in another 12 months’ time I’ll be saying the same thing and that is there has been no meaningful change in waste handling in Queensland.