The Palaszczuk Government has announced the next step in its plan to improve waste management in Queensland.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government was moving ahead with the development of a comprehensive waste management strategy, underpinned by a waste levy, and that changes would be proposed as a result of consultation with major stakeholders.
“We know Queenslanders care about recycling and want to make a difference in waste management,” Ms Enoch said.
“The Palaszczuk Government has banned single-use plastic bags, and Queensland’s container refund scheme has already seen more than 10 million containers returned for recycling.
“These reforms are all about improving how we manage waste in Queensland.”
Today the Government has announced how some of the funds raised through the waste levy will benefit Queensland communities and industries.
“We have committed that 70% of revenue raised from the levy will go back to councils, the waste industry, scheme start-up, and environmental programs.
“As part of that commitment, $6 million in extra funding will expand the Community Sustainability Action Grants Program, which funds environmental projects to encourage real change in Queensland communities,” Ms Enoch said.
“This extra funding will expand the program to cover waste, koala conservation and threatened species programs.
“$1 million will also go towards a Resource Recovery Industries Roadmap and Action Plan, to position Queensland as a leader in resource recovery.
“And we’re providing $6 million for a regional recycling transport assistance program, $1.8 million to expand the successful ecoBiz program to help small businesses reduce waste, and $2 million in support for the construction industry.”
Earlier this year, the Palaszczuk Government announced work on a comprehensive new waste management strategy for Queensland to increase recycling, improve investment in the sector, and create new jobs.
“Queensland has one of the worst recycling rates in the country. Every year about 55% of our waste is sent to landfill – that’s over 5 million tonnes. This amount of rubbish would fill the Gabba nearly 18 times.
“We need to change that by working with industry, local government and the community.
“During consultation about the waste levy, which has been undertaken over several months, the Government has been listening carefully to the views of stakeholders, including representatives from local councils who have asked for a later start-date.
“After listening to the feedback, the Palaszczuk Government has decided that it is in the best interests of Queenslanders for the waste levy to commence on 1 July 2019,” Ms Enoch said.
“We are a consultative Government and want to ensure the implementation of the waste levy is as smooth as possible for local councils, industry and for Queensland.”
Consistent with the later start, the date of levy increments is also proposed to move to 1 July each year.
“Delaying the start of the levy and changing the increment dates requires the Government to adjust the waste levy rate to ensure we don’t fall further behind other states,” Ms Enoch said.
“As such, the levy rate will start at $75 per tonne, but importantly the first increase in levy rates will not be for 12 months.”
Minister Enoch reiterated that the Palaszczuk Government was ensuring Queenslanders would not have to pay more to put out their wheelie bins every week, by providing advance payments to councils.
LGAQ CEO, Greg Hallam, thanked the state government for responding to councils’ request for more time.
“The government has worked cooperatively with us every step of the way and we’re pleased to have reached a practical and pragmatic outcome that will ensure local governments are ready for the waste levy.
“A 1 July start date, even if that means a slightly higher rate, is exactly what we asked government for, and it’s good news for Queensland councils.
“The waste levy will help us advance toward a zero waste future by 2035 and we thank the government for listening to our concerns about timing,” Mr Hallam said.
CEO of WRIQ Rick Ralph said he understood that more time for councils also means more time for industry to be ready and for the right regulatory structures to be put in place.
“The waste and recycling industry is getting on with the job of preparing for the waste levy and we’ll continue to work closely with the government to ensure the levy is implemented well.”
Minister Enoch said the introduction of a waste levy would bring Queensland in line with other Australian states.
“Queensland used to have a waste levy, but it was recklessly scrapped by the LNP,” Ms Enoch said. “This robbed Queensland of the opportunity to invest in recycling and other waste management industries, and created an influx of trucks dumping waste here from other states.
“The LNP have been scaremongering in the community. They should just come out and admit that they plan to keep the levy.”
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch