Queensland will introduce a waste levy to stop the dumping of NSW waste in Queensland landfills.
The practice has occurred since the removal of a levy for landfill dumping under the Newman government in 2012. And, as recently revealed, even NSW waste supposedly slated to be recycled in Queensland (to avoid a NSW law prohibiting transfer of landfill waste more than 150 kilometres) has been sent on to landfill, putting at risk building projects’ Green Star credentials.
While the levy has not been set, it will need to be significant in order to disincentive dumping of waste from NSW, where the levy is $138.20 a tonne for metropolitan areas.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the levy would be above the former $35 a tonne price, noting that most states charged between $60-70 a tonne.
The government this week released the findings of an investigation into transport of waste into Queensland by former justice of the Supreme Court Peter Lyons, which it has been sitting on since the end of last year, the first recommendation of which was the introduction of a waste levy.
The report found that the vast majority of waste being imported into Queensland was from NSW, with the obvious incentive being the reduced cost of waste disposal. Even transporting contaminated soil from Victoria could be cost-effective, the report found.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state was responding to the recommendations.
“Following the findings and recommendations from Justice Lyons’ report, my government is developing a comprehensive waste and recycling strategy that will stem the tide of incoming interstate waste and set the direction for sustainable waste management in Queensland,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We will also establish a stakeholder advisory group, with representatives from industry, to help develop Queensland’s waste management framework.”
Ms Palaszczuk also called out what she termed “big construction companies and unscrupulous operators in the waste industry” that were taking advantage of Queenslanders.
Environment minister Leeanne Enoch said the plan would help to increase recycling and boost jobs in the sector.
“This strategy will set the direction for waste management in Queensland, and provide clarity and certainty for investment and business planning,” she said.
“This will allow us to build a diverse and sustainable waste management industry that delivers long-term value to our environment, new jobs for our communities and confidence to invest in Queensland.”
The strategy was welcomed by the Waste Management Association of Australia, which also called for a national harmonised approach to ensure a level playing field.
“We want to see waste managed in accordance with the hierarchy and as close as possible to where it was produced,” WMAA chief executive Gayle Sloan said.
“This is a real opportunity to create local jobs and investment in this essential sector. Transportation of waste over long distances just to avoid levies is irresponsible, dangerous and environmentally damaging.”