Reforming the waste levy framework
What has changed?
The Protection of the Environment (Illegal Waste Disposal) Act 2013 (the Act) was assented to on 3 September 2013. The Act removes, from section 88, the levy exemption for scheduled waste facilities that is used solely for re-using, recovering, recycling or processing waste.
In addition to the amendments in the Act, from 1 August 2015 the levy exemption that applied to storage, treatment and transfer stations will be removed from the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 (the Waste Regulation). This has the effect that all scheduled waste facilities in the regulated area will be liable to pay the levy. Details regarding the amount, timing of payments, and reporting and record-keeping requirements, are given effect in the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014.
From 1 August 2015 operators of scheduled waste facilities will hold a levy liability on all waste received at the facility, but this liability will be extinguished once the waste is transported back off-site for lawful re-use or disposal.
Payment of the levy will only be triggered where:
- waste is stockpiled on-site for more than 12 months, unless the waste has been processed at the facility to a standard required by a resource recovery order
- waste is stockpiled above lawful limits
- waste is transported for unlawful disposal.
Who will be included?
The levy changes apply to scheduled waste facilities (i.e. those required to hold an environment protection licence for storage, treatment, processing or sorting of waste) in the regulated area.
What facilities will be exempted?
The following facilities will be exempted from the levy provisions:
- facilities licensed for metallurgical activities
- facilities that are only required to be licensed for clinical and related waste, liquid waste, hazardous or restricted solid waste
- facilities operating as solely ceramic works, composting, container reconditioning, contaminated soil treatment, or paper or pulp production facilities.
Why change the system?
The activities of rogue operators distort the waste market, negatively impact the financial viability of legitimate operators and undermine the intent of the waste levy, which is to divert waste from landfill and increase recycling and resource recovery.
These illegal activities include the forging of landfill dockets, deliberate misclassification of waste and transportation of waste to unlawful disposal sites. There is also an increasing trend in the long-term ‘storage’ of waste with no legitimate end-use.
Apart from the health and environmental risks, increasing waste storage and stockpiling waste represents a risk of abandonment and a potential liability to local communities for future clean-up costs.
These changes are designed to break the business model of rogue operators in the waste industry and maintain the integrity of the waste levy framework. The system simply shifts the point at which the levy is paid on non-recyclable residuals from the landfill gate to the recycling gate, effectively removing the incentive to stockpile, misclassify or illegally dump non-recyclable residuals.
The new system will also provide a strong incentive for operators of recycling and waste storage facilities to manage their stockpiles efficiently and encourage the movement of material out of the facility for lawful re-use within a 12-month period.
How will these changes affect recycling facilities?
The change is not a levy on recyclables. The levy currently applies to the non-recyclable portion of the waste that is lawfully disposed. The cost of the levy, like other operational and overhead costs, should therefore already be included in the gate price charged by a legitimate recycler.
These changes will result in no net increase in the amount of waste levy paid by legitimate recyclers, processors or waste transfer stations. However, it is possible that some facilities will require upgrades to weighbridges and other record-keeping systems, or be required to carry out video monitoring or volumetric surveys. The NSW Government has therefore committed funding of up to $75,000 to assist in the installation of new weighbridges.
What would you like to do next?
Page last updated: 03 September 2015