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Understanding Queensland’s Waste Levy: What You Need to Know

August 9, 2019
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Queensland’s Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy aims to reduce waste and promote recycling. This is supported by a Waste Levy, which offers a financial incentive to waste producers who reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill. To understand how this levy will impact the cost of your project, you need to know what areas the levy applies to, what types of waste are subject to the levy, what waste category your waste falls under, and whether you are eligible for a levy exemption.

The levy zone covers 39 out of 77 local government areas in Queensland, which is where most of the waste is generated and disposed of. The levy applies to the location of disposal, not generation. You can find a map of the levy zones on the QLD Government’s website.

All waste is subject to the levy unless exempted by definition or by application.

The following wastes are exempt by definition (although evidence that the waste meets the following definitions will need to be provided to the receiving landfill):

  • Waste resulting from a declared natural disaster such as a cyclone, bushfire or flood;
  • Serious local event waste (by notification to Department of Environment and Science);
  • Certain types of lawfully managed and transported asbestos waste (basically asbestos waste not mixed with other waste.). For example, asbestos mixed with soil and construction and demolition waste is not exempt under this category. However, asbestos bonded to materials such as in concrete are exempt. To be exempt the asbestos must be transported by a person licensed for transport of a regulated waste.
  • Dredge spoil (testing required to show the spoil is not acid sulfate soils (ASS). Treated ASS is also excluded from the levy with testing).
  • Clean earth (testing required to show the soil is not contaminated and not ASS. Contaminated soil remediated back to clean earth is exempt). Please note that this exemption will be removed by 1st of July 2023.
  • Litter and illegally dumped waste collected by government, councils or forestry plantation licensees.

The following wastes are exempt by application:

  • Waste received as part of charity donations that cannot practicably be re-used, recycled or sold;
  • Litter and illegally dumped waste which is collected as part of a community activity;
  • Waste necessary for the operation of a leviable waste disposal site, such as for building infrastructure, temporary or daily cover, progressive or final capping, batter construction, profiling and site rehabilitation;
  • Some types of earth contaminated with a hazardous contaminant from land listed on the environmental management register or contaminated land register;
  • Biosecurity waste; and
  • Serious local event waste (extension of time request).

Exemptions can be applied for (for a fee) by completing application forms on the Queensland government website. If you are unsure how to complete these forms, you can engage a Suitably Qualified Consultant such as EESI to do so for you. Turnaround times are usually around 30 days. It is possible for the timeline to begin again if DES requires further clarification after your applications are filled out correctly.

To avoid heartache at your waste disposal facility, we at EESI suggest requesting a ‘Waste Acceptance Letter’ from the receiving facility. This will allow the landfill to request any additional information they may need such as environmental testing to ensure you don’t get turned away at the weighbridge.

Levy costs will depend on your type of waste as shown in the table below. The levy is payable to the landfill as per your usual account requirements. Landfills will add an additional levy management fee.

Find all current levy rates here.

Reviewing the levy rates, you will notice that incorrect classification of your waste can cost your project a significant amount of money. Furthermore, there are opportunities to save your project money by receiving a levy exemption or treating your waste to reduce its toxicity and potentially dropping its category from category 1 to category 2. We are happy to provide advice in this area.

Where exemptions and classifications require most thought is with the characterisation of waste soil. The regulation outlines that sampling is to be completed by an appropriately qualified person. However, sampling ratios, analytical suites and statistical methods applied to the data will differ from project to project. EESI specialises in soil remediation and waste classification and can provide innovative solutions to waste soil management.

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