Victorian landfill levy revenues to go back into the industry
The significant increase in the landfill levy on July 1 this year in Victoria, from $7 per tonne to $30 per tonne, will be followed by a further increase next year. The Victorian government has flagged that additional increases may follow, with the levy expected to reach $53.20 in Melbourne and provincial centres by 2014/15. The Government has committed to an investment of $53.7 million raised by the levy over the next five years, but how much will industry benefit from this?
The Victorian Government has stated that the investment is designed “to help businesses, councils, households and communities address waste and its environmental impacts and assist in the transition to the higher levy rates”.
Environment Minister Gavin Jennings said the $53.7 million funding raised from the increased levies could help increase resource efficiency and recycling by up to 33%.
Addressing an industry group, as part of a recent WMAA event, Mike Gooey from Victoria’s Dept of Sustainability & Environment, was available to answer questions about how the waste and resource recovery industry may benefit from the Government funded projects.
“The response was generally positive,” he said, “I think industry accepts that increasing landfill levies is generally a good thing because it clearly gives a sense of direction for the industry…a clear market signal.
“Noting that landfill levies are a blunt (policy) tool, there is plenty of opportunity for government and industry to work together to identify more sophisticated policy tools in regard to the waste industry”.
Gooey said there had been some concern expressed by local government in regard to rate payers being adversely affected. But he said the most recent increase in the landfill levy represented an additional average household cost of only 20 cents per week.
The other issue on the lips of industry was that of hypothecation. To that Gooey responded, “Obviously Victoria is in a position where the money that’s collected from landfill levies does stay within the sustainability portfolio, unlike NSW where it goes into general revenue”.
“A large part of that is for the waste industry and other sustainability programs”.
In terms of investment back into the industry the Government is focusing on a number of programs which it made a funding announced about earlier this year. These include $14 million to support councils and recyclers with new resource recovery investments and initiatives to complement the levy and accelerate recycling; and a further $8.5 million to assist councils to implement a range of waste collection and management initiatives.
“The focus on recycling is partly about MSW but there are also opportunities in C&I and C&D as well…the EPA and Sustainability Victoria have been doing a lot of work with local government, businesses and peak bodies, including the Municipal Association of Victoria,” said Gooey.
He believes both programs will be open for applications in October, and would be appropriate for various technologies and processes designed to divert waste from landfill including AWTs.
Other funding priorities include $14 million to assist businesses to reduce the waste they generate; $6 million to establish a Strike Force to address illegal dumping and a further $5.5 million to clean up contaminated legacy sites.
“Government leaders are keen,” said Gooey, “to get a much better portfolio approach to waste. DSE, EPA, Sustainability Victoria and the waste management groups are working to better coordinate our efforts.
“To have a very clear understanding of how we’re going against targets, what are the policy barriers, having answers to these questions will definitely help us work better with industry in terms of policy and programs”.
On September 22, the Victorian Government released an update on it progress with its Strike Force program.
More than 80,000 tonnes of illegally dumped waste is collected from roadsides and suburbs each year with thousands more tonnes believed to be dumped in large scale illegal landfill sites, it said.
Premier John Brumby said Strike Force would strengthen the enforcement capabilities of the EPA and would mean more officers working in the sky and on the ground to identify, investigate and hold to account those who illegally dispose of waste.
“Illegally dumping waste not only threatens our communities and the environment but financially undermines legitimate licensed waste operators,” said Brumby.
“This strategy will deliver a better outcome for the environment and save money for local councils, which spend more than $13 million on cleaning up illegal dumping each year”.
The Victorian Government’s funding will cover:
- $14 million to assist businesses to reduce the waste they send to landfill through innovations that reduce the amount of waste they generate from daily operations;
- $14 million to support councils and recyclers with new resource recovery investments and initiatives to complement the levy and accelerate recycling;
- $5.5 million to assist councils in metropolitan Melbourne implement best practice waste collection and management systems in line with the metropolitan waste plan;
- $3 million to assist councils in regional Victoria to implement a range of collection and waste management initiatives;
- $6 million to establish a Strike Force to address illegal dumping and a further $5.5 million to clean up contaminated legacy sites; and
- $5.69 million to environment agencies to further support households, councils and industry to tackle waste and sustainability issues which includes $1.14 million for both the Metropolitan Waste Management Group and Regional Waste Management Groups.
Source: Inside Waste Weekly