It is very difficult to not be aware of the ongoing and worsening crisis hitting recycling NSW – and recycling throughout Australia in 2019. The papers and TV report bad news almost on a weekly basis – such as numerous councils in Melbourne metro area having no real option but to send recycling collected straight to landfill.



In today’s blog – we will cover a political campaign that is seeking to have all the funds collected through the NSW Waste levy – i.e. the levy or tax imposed on any dumping of waste at landfill – dedicated exclusively to paying for recycling systems, facilities and processes.


We will also ask questions as to whether the NSW State Government puts money into recycling i.e. on a net net basis – or whether they take some of the tax / levy collected and use for other items – i.e. who pays for recycling NSW – and where does all the money go!


Can Waster help your small business with recycling?


Waster works with lots of small (and not so small businesses) throughout NSW – to boost recycling, reduce costs for waste services – and improve services and flexibility.


We provide all services online – through our waste management shop – where you can check recycling options, bin hire prices and much more.


We always love to talk to people keen to start a recycling journey – so please reach out to our friendly team!



How much money is collected through the levy on landfill to promote recycling NSW every year?


NSW like most other Australian states – imposes a steep financial levy on dumping at landfill. This is basically a tax or additional cost on not recycling.


It supposedly can be avoided – i.e. if you recycle your waste.


The big problem here is that in many instances – it is not really possible to recycle all your waste – as mentioned, Melbourne councils are now dumping recycling at landfill – and this is easy to recycle items including bottles and cans.


In March 2019 – the levies on dumping are:


The 2018–19 waste levy rates apply from 1 July 2018. The waste levy rate calculation is prescribed in the Waste Regulation as follows

  • Metropolitan Levy Area: $141.20 per tonne
  • Regional Levy Area: $81.30 per tonne

In line with the Waste Regulation, the 2019–20 waste levy rates will again increase by Consumer Price Index (CPI) only.


This clearly adds up to huge revenue for the State when you think of the shear tonnage produced in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and other areas.


The SMH reports that c. $727m is collected per year – as of 2019 from the Waste Levy. This is certainly a considerable chunk of change – and represents real cost to businesses and real revenue to the NSW Government.


The question is of course – where is this money spent – and is it on boosting recycling NSW performance – or does it go on other non-related projects.


The levy acts (or can act ) in two ways to promote recycling NSW improvements.


By being able to avoid the levy by recycling – it is argued to enhance the financial reasoning for recycling. If the revenue raised is also spent on recycling infrastructure, processes etc – it can also make recycling much easier and accessible for business and private individuals.


After all – there is no point in penalising people for dumping at landfill – if there is no alternative. That just would represent a real tax on business and job creation.


who pays for recycling nsw



Campaign in 2019 – to lock away the levy revenue – to pay for recycling innovations


There is a movement in NSW arguing and lobbying for the large sums raised to be locked away and dedicated to recycling innovations only.


“A LGNSW campaign called Save Our Recycling is lobbying for all of the $727 million in revenue raised from the Waste Levy to be reinvested in waste management, and new initiatives to recycle waste that previously would have been shipped offshore.”


The campaign argues


“It is critical that NSW develops its on-shore processing capacity for recycled materials, rather than shipping waste to countries such as China.”


Waster has not researched the political organisations behind Save Our Recycling – and is not positioned to comment on that aspect of the campaign.


See our blog asking should asbestos be subject to the waste levy.


The NSW Government response


The current NSW Government has argued that huge sums have been invested in NSW recycling – such as NSW recycling bottles and cans programs – and 10c rebates for eligible containers (reverse vending systems).


NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton  said the LGNSW argument was lacking in facts and mis-representing the large investment the current Government has made:


“They say all of the $727 million from the waste levy should be spent in waste management. However, $802 million is being invested through the NSW government’s Waste Less Recycle More program which supports programs in waste avoidance, recycling and organic collections, as well as new waste infrastructure and programs to tackle illegal dumping and litter, ” 

The Waste Less Recycle Project had created 1160 projects which were diverting 2.39 million tonnes of waste from landfill each year and created nearly 1000 jobs. It had supported the construction of 20 new resource recovery facilities and the upgrading of 37 existing facilities. The return and earn container scheme had also resulted in the recycling of 1.4 billion eligible drink containers.

Waster argues that we require a new guide for how to recycle here.


Where does Waster think we should invest our recycling funds raised?


The fact remains (political arguments notwithstanding) – that there is huge potential for boosting recycling facilities in NSW. Good projects to start with would be:


– enhanced organic waste facilities – which can actually accept compostable plastic coffee cups.

– options for nappy recycling – which already exist and work overseas

– new general waste separation systems – such as recently launched in Nowra