Businesses that send their waste to landfill will pay increased fees either at the landfill gate or through council rates. However, if businesses recycle, re-use and reduce their waste, they will pay less at the gate.
This could happen, however the government has increased the fines and resourcing for managing littering, and can investigate and prosecute people who litter.
Yes. Most states have a waste levy, and some states have had a levy for decades.
The landfill levy is a fee placed on waste materials sent to landfill for disposal. The aim of this levy is to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. This will benefit the environment and create economic benefits by keeping the resources that can be recovered from waste circulating in the productive economy. We call this the 'circular economy'.
Householders and businesses can reduce their landfill fees by being careful with what they do with their waste. By sorting rubbish and sending it to an appropriate recycling facility instead of the landfill, people can avoid paying the levy.
The Tasmanian Waste Levy Impact Study 2020 (below) found that the optimal way to reduce waste and increase resources recovered from landfill is to introduce the levy in stages over multiple years:
- An initial rate of $20 per tonne for the first 2 years
- After two years, the levy will increase to 24 fee units (around $40 per tonne)
- After a further two years, the levy will increase to 36 fee units ($60 per tonne).
The levy amount is set in the Act and Regulations as fee units so it keeps pace with inflation. This means that the actual levy charged will change as the fee unit rate is adjusted each year. The initial levy rate has been set as close as possible to the modeled rate.
It is expected that the cost will be passed on to householders and businesses at the landfill gate and through Council rates. For households, a levy of $20 per tonne has been projected to cost an additional $3.47 per person per year (averaged over 10 years). As the levy increases through time, projections over a 10-year period are that the average cost to householders would be $7.67 per person per year.
It is projected that, as a result of the levy, $121 million will be injected back into the economy over 10 years and that recycling and recovery of waste will be lifted from its current level of 45% to 69% by 2030.
Waste Levy Impact Study (PDF 3Mb)
What are the benefits of the levy, in the long term?
Landfilling can have harmful environmental impacts such as groundwater pollution, odours, land contamination and methane generation (a powerful greenhouse gas). Landfills occupy valuable land that could otherwise be used productively, they attract vermin, and can be technically difficult to manage.
A lot of waste materials can be reused, recycled or diverted to organic composting or energy generation. Putting waste into landfill represents a loss of resources and goes against circular economy principles. The landfill levy is predicted to reduce waste to landfill by 210,000 tonnes per year by 2030/31, which will extend the life of existing landfills and reduce the need for new facilities.
The levy is providing a source of funds to further stimulate the growth and development of resource recovery and reprocessing businesses and operations throughout the State. According to the Tasmanian Waste Levy Impact Study 2020, the resource recovery sector creates 6.4 jobs per 10,000 tonnes of recovered waste, hence the levy could result in around 130 new Tasmanian jobs.
Do other states have a landfill levy?
All other states have legislated waste levies, and many have had them for some years.
$60 per tonne is close to the average rate of the levy in regional areas on mainland Australia. The landfill levy in metropolitan areas around Australia varies between $70 per tonne (Western Australia) to $146 per tonne (New South Wales).
Who is imposing and collecting the levy?
The Tasmanian Government has implemented the levy through the introduction of legislation. Landfill operators (including councils that operate a landfill) are required to pay the levy to Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania, who administer the levy and ensure compliance with all levy regulations.
The levy monies are directed into a dedicated reinvestment account established and managed in accordance with the proposed legislation.
When I go to a Waste Transfer Station, will I have to pay the levy?
Waste Transfer Station operators pay the levy on waste that they eventually dispose to landfill, so they are likely to pass on the levy cost to the public through their gate fees. It is expected that operators will attempt to divert waste materials towards recycling as much as possible by collecting items such as glass, paper, plastic, e-waste, cardboard, batteries, clothing, polystyrene, construction materials, paint tins, furniture, mattresses and more. This will reduce their costs, and therefore the cost to the public.
Will I need to pay the levy on materials that can be recycled?
The levy only applies to waste disposed of into landfill. If you go to a resource recovery facility, you will only pay the facility's operational or handling fees (if they charge them). If you go to a waste management centre that includes both a landfill facility and resource recovery facilities (e.g. tip shop or bins for recycling materials), you may be able to avoid or reduce what you pay if you divert waste into resource recovery options.
If in doubt, ask the operator of the facility.
Has there been consideration for the effect of the levy on business and the community?
Yes. The authors of the Tasmanian Waste Levy Impact Study 2020 consulted with local government, State agencies, regional organisations, industry bodies, commercial waste generators, landfill operators and resource recovery operators about the impacts of a levy.
Feedback from the study, as well as feedback on the Government's 2019 draft Waste Action Plan, showed strong support for the introduction of a state-wide landfill levy for its environmental benefits and for the development opportunities it will stimulate for the resource recovery sector.
The Tasmanian Waste Levy Impact Study 2020 found that the Tasmanian community would be better off with a levy than without a levy, due to the broader benefits to society that a landfill levy can bring.
Will the levy result in more illegal dumping?
There may be an increase in illegal dumping of rubbish, such as in bushland areas. The reasons why some people dump their rubbish are not clear. Although logically there is a link between the cost of disposal and illegal dumping, for some people it is simply anti-social behaviour.
To discourage illegal dumping the Government has recently increased fines for littering and illegally dumping waste. The intention is to use some of the levy revenue to further support programs that tackle littering and illegal dumping (including education) around the State.
What will be the impact on competition in waste and other markets?
The Tasmanian Waste Levy Impact Study 2020 found that competition impacts will either be neutral or positive.
Landfill operators will see diminishing revenue from gate fees as the amount disposed to landfill is reduced. However, most landfill facilities already diversify their business with some recovery operations, and those who introduce innovation by either diverting materials or recycling before the waste is buried in landfill will gain a business advantage.
The resource recovery sector stands to benefit greatly from increased demand and investment. Using the levy strategically to foster improvements in resource recovery, infrastructure investment, research, and innovation will, in time, result in better quality and variety of recycled products and lower the cost of producing them. This will create greater demand in the market for recycled products.
What consultation has been done?
The public consultation for the Waste and Resource Recovery Bill 2021 was completed in March 2021. This process involved a public notice in the three main Tasmanian daily newspapers, publication of the draft Bill and associated papers on the website; generic letters sent to a range of stakeholders advising them that a public consultation period was now open and inviting their submission; targeted discussions with stakeholders; and visits to the three regions and King Island to explain the Bill to interested councils.
There were 31 formal submissions received as part of the public consultation process for the Bill, encompassing the views of local government, regional groups, industry representatives, waste and recovery businesses, commercial and not-for-profit organisations, and individuals in respect of the proposed legislation.
The Tasmanian Government has also received specific advice from the Local Government Association of Tasmania, and valued the input received from remote area councils.
Charitable Recycling Australia (TAS), Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Housing Industry Australia, and the Regional Waste Management groups were also consulted, recognising the importance of sectors and regional areas (including the Islands) that are impacted in unique ways.
Public consultation was also held for the Regulations, as well as targeted consultation with various industry groups and sectors throughout implementation of the landfill levy. This included discussions with landfill and resource recovery facility operators around the specific implementation issues that may arise through the Act and Regulations.
What consideration has been given to charities?
Charities and not-for-profit businesses that receive donations of goods from the public for repurposing and recycling play an important role in the circular economy and will be able to apply for grants programs offered by the Waste and Resource Recovery Board.
Receiving donations from the public makes them vulnerable to having waste dumped at their premises. There is also residual waste from their operations, such as donations that are unusable or not fit for purpose.
It is a statutory function of the Tasmanian Waste and Resource Recovery Board to administer an assistance program to assist charitable recyclers. This process was developed after consultation with Charitable Recycling Australia and took into account their advice that a rebate program was a more effective mechanism than an exemption.
Is there a risk that stockpiling will occur?
Some stockpiling of materials already occurs in the ordinary course of business at landfills and resource recovery facilities and is necessary for their operations. For example, landfills will often have a stockpile of daily cover material ready for use, and recycling businesses need an adequate supply of material for continuous operations.
There is, however, a concern that stockpiling will increase once the landfill levy commences. This has been a problem in other jurisdictions that have seen stockpiles of waste used as a mechanism to evade levy payment. This may also happen because the recovery facility is unable to keep up with the volume of waste to be processed.
Stockpiles of waste materials can be a concern as they may attract pests and vermin, cause odour and disamenity, create a fire hazard or risks to the environment or human health and safety.
Because the levy may impact the incidence of stockpiling there is provision in the Waste and Resource Recovery Act 2022 for the issuing of Guidelines or Ministerial Standards on the best practice management of stockpiled materials. This will enable more education and enforcement capability to address this concern.
How will the levy funds be governed?
What are the main roles of the new board?
One of the most important functions of the Waste and Resource Recovery Board will be to develop a strategy to guide waste and resource recovery activities across Tasmania. The key objectives are to divert waste away from landfill and increase resource recovery. The functions of the board include monitoring the effectiveness of practices across the State to drive continuous improvement. A focus of their work will be applying circular economy principles to deliver the waste strategy and foster growth in the resource recovery sector.
Further information about the Board is available on the Waste and Resource Recovery Board webpage.
How will regulation and compliance be managed?
Regulation and compliance of the levy system will be managed through officers of the Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania, according to the legislation and relevant regulations.
The potential for additional littering and dumping because of the levy's introduction will be addressed through additional capacity for the EPA to undertake relevant compliance activities.
Where can I find out more information?