Waste Levy Queensland: Does It Really Boost Recycling?
Waste levy Queensland: “In this world, only two things are certain: death and taxes.” As stated by one of the founding fathers of the USA Benjamin Franklin, nothing is certain in life except for these two, especially the tax part.
No one can escape taxes, not even Australia’s waste management process. Just this year, the Queensland government introduced a levy on waste going to landfills.
This levy was implemented to encourage recycling, resource recovery, and landfill waste reduction. Another aspect was to decrease the cross border shipping of waste from NSW.
Taking all of these into consideration, the main question to be asked is “Does implementing a waste levy Queensland actually boost recycling?”
What Is A Waste Levy?
Before anything else, let me first explain what a waste levy is.
A waste levy – or landfill tax – is a form of tax that is implemented on tipping at landfill i.e. for general waste.
The reason why it was implemented is that it promotes the idea of recycling and resource recovery, reducing waste going to landfills, and waste reduction. It also serves to raise revenue for the State Government – lots of revenue! It can also raise revenue in a way that voters generally do not see.
In this article, let us get into more details about the implemented Queensland waste levy.
More Details About Queensland Waste Levy
The waste levy that the Queensland government introduced was implemented on 1 July 2019 – afters years of zero levy on landfill.
The levy will start at $75 per tonne and is expected to increase $5 every year for the next four years.
The levy does not directly affect households, it only charges businesses in charge of disposing wastes to landfills.
Obviously – it is a real cost to business – who may need to pass on cost increases (if they can) to consumers.
The primary payers of the introduced waste levy Queesland will be the landfill operators, either local councils or private businesses. It is based on the amount of landfill disposed of in tonnes.
The applicable places, called the levy zones, cover 39 of the 77 local government of Queensland, which encompasses about 90% of Queensland’s total population.
As per the Queensland government, the levy seeks to do the following:
- to promote recycling
- to discourage and reduce the amount of landfill disposal
- to improve resource recovery practices
- to increase the number of recyclables for processing
- to facilitate industry investment in resource recovery infrastructure
Taking all of this information into account, let us weigh in the pros and cons of imposing such waste levies.
For more details about the Queensland waste levy, read our published blog about it here.
Pros of a Waste Levy
To further elaborate, we will take a look at the known advantages of applying such a pricey waste levy.
Firstly, it greatly discourages landfill disposal. We all know that landfill disposal has been a major problem for the environment, and recycling or diversion is better clearly. To know more about how much recyclable materials find their way in landfills, read our blog here.
It greatly discourages landfill disposal, imposing such a hefty levy. In return, it encourages recycling more through the cost differential – or at least it supposed to. Of course – issues arise – if you can not actually boost recycling – i.e. if no recycling facilities are actually available.
According to the South Australian government “The waste levy has progressively increased since its initial introduction.” Resource recovery significantly increased since the implementation of the waste levy Queensland. They reported that from 2 million tonnes in 2003, resource recovery increased to 4 million tonnes in 2016. They also noted that waste sent to landfills saw a decrease of about 29 per cent from 2003 to 2016.
Second, it also funds and supports the local economy. It gives job opportunities, activities to clean up the environment, tax revenue, and other beneficial economic effects.
For every advantage, there is also a disadvantage. Next, we will discuss the negative impacts the waste levy has.
Cons of a Waste Levy
A major negative impact that the waste levy Queenland is that it is a real burden on business – if they can not avoid it through real recycling.
Did you know that every jurisdiction’s waste levy varies? For example, as stated here, it costs 75$ per tonne in Queensland – while in NSW, it costs 143$ per tonne. From these prices, you can see that some jurisdictions have cheaper levies than others and vice-versa.
As a result, some landfill operators unnecessarily transport waste to other jurisdictions to avoid or reduce the hefty levy costs. This has been a huge issue in recent years – with train loads of waste leaving cities like Sydney – travelling all the way north of the border to tip.
Lastly, it negatively encourages some to open up an illegal dumping site. Obviously as the cost of dumping legally increases – the chances of illegal options also arises. This of course can be seen in the area of illegal cigarette sales – as the price of legal cigarettes increases.
The Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) stated that since the implementation of the waste levy, there have been increasing findings of illegal landfills. Due to the increasing price of the waste levy, some find it better to do illegal means to alleviate the costs of dumping waste to landfills.
To sum it all up, the main cause of the negative effects is the waste levy being too pricey. It continues to increase yearly, with Queensland increasing $5 per tonne yearly; NSW increases $10 per tonne yearly last 2012-2015.
There has been a clear lack of new recycling facilities built due to the levy imposed – for example- we will wait to see what new recycling facilities are built in Queensland following the levy implementation.
One example we have covered in other blogs – is that nappies can be recycled – and are in other countries. They are never recycled in Australia however – as the facilities have not been built. Should this not be a great place to invest the money raised through a levy?
As we have already introduced the pros and cons of having a waste levy Queensland, you may ask yourselves “Does the waste levy actually boost recycling? ”
It makes you wonder a tonne, right? Well, it depends upon how you weigh in the situation. Like any other situations, they always have positives and negatives in them. Whether the objective is really to boost recycling – or to boost State revenue through a hidden tax is up for debate.
You can opt to reduce your cost by boosting your recycling performance.
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