It’s time for Queensland to reintroduce a landfill levy

by Corporate Waste Solutions
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More than a week after the Queensland election, current predictions are for a Labor majority.

At the same time, the NSW Environment Protection Authority has told a NSW parliamentary inquiry that the scale of waste transport to Queensland is far higher than previously believed. An eye-watering 830,000 tonnes was transported in 2016/17, largely by rail – almost double the 430,000 tonnes transported in the previous year.

Without action, over a million tonnes of waste could find its way north of the border in 2017/18. That’s jobs and investment dollars draining away from NSW to form long term liabilities for Queenslanders.

The National Waste Report in 2016 reported almost 5.5 megatonnes going to landfill in Queensland, excluding waste from NSW.

A Queensland levy of $50 per tonne on all waste to landfill would close the price arbitrage with NSW. At $50 per tonne, the levy would raise $275 million per year in Queensland and create recycling jobs in Queensland and NSW (because waste no longer leaks north).

Reinvesting half of these funds (50 percent hypothecation) back into Queensland local government and the waste sector will help attract local government support, especially since local government would be paying about $92 million in levy and receiving $138 million back.

Even looked at as a purely financial instrument, that is a 50 percent investment return per year (guaranteed) and one that cash starved local councils should warmly welcome.

We need a new economics – to limit the transport arbitrage from Sydney to Brisbane, to fund Queensland local government recycling initiatives and to create long terms recycling jobs in Queensland.

Yes, nobody likes paying tax, but better a tax on pollution and landfill than a tax on payrolls. It is also 100 percent avoidable by recycling.

Local Government and the waste industry must get behind this necessary reform and give the government the political capital it needs to reintroduce a Queensland landfill levy. Without it, the trucks and trains will continue to pour waste into Queensland, jobs will go begging and recycling will remain stilted in Queensland.

Written by Mike Ritchie, MRA Consulting Group. You can read more on ‘The Tipping Point‘.

Image: Huguette Roe

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