It’s time for Queensland Labor to reintroduce a landfill levy

By Mike Ritchie, MRA Consulting Group

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

TruckAt the same time, the NSW EPA 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 MT going to landfill in Queensland, excluding waste from NSW.

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

Reinvesting these funds back into the Queensland waste sector will help attract local government support. As a key player in the sector, local government will attract significant funding, and there will be a pool of funds available to make projects viable that otherwise were not.

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

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.

As always, I welcome your input on this, or any other topic on ‘The Tipping Point’.

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