Garbage bulldozer working in a landfill - Harbak Business Advisory and Consultancy

The state government handed down the 2018 Queensland budget on June 12, with one of the most talked about issues being the implementation of the waste landfill levy.

Whilst the main objective of the levy is to stop the convoys of waste trucks travelling north along both the New England and Pacific Highways to Queensland landfills, the implementation of the levy has wider much implications.

Some observations about the implementation of the levy:

  • The proposed rate will be $70 per tonne for waste derived from commercial, construction or industrial sources.
  • This levy will increase by $5 per annum.
  • Domestic (or residential) waste is levy free and Councils will be able to claim a rebate of 105% of the tonnage for domestic waste.
  • 38 local government areas (or about 90% of Queensland’s population) will be impacted.
  • The commencement date is yet to be announced but is expected to be implemented by January 2019.

Budget implications for the State Government:

During her budget speech, Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad indicated that in the first six months, $100 million will be collected which equates to just under 1.5 million tonnes. It is estimated that this tonnage has been under calculated, and in fact, the Queensland Treasury could expect a much higher return based on predictions from industry sources. It is also expected that whilst the quantity of trucks from NSW will be reduced, it will be still more commercially viable for some areas of NSW to bring their waste to Queensland, thus meaning we could gain revenue from some NSW business activities!

With regard to the quantity of funds collected from a landfill levy, the NSW Government recently stated that funds gained from their landfill levy achieved a greater revenue than was initially thought.

To encourage the recycling market, the Queensland Budget have said that $100 million of funding will be designated to develop a high-value resource recovery industry. Whilst details are still to be finalised, funding will be available for infrastructure or machinery up to $5 million on a dollar-for-dollar basis, the development of new large-scale facilities as well as support for advanced feasibility studies for innovative waste recovery projects. The nature of these planned projects indicate that the $100 million will not be spent in the first year. It is worth noting that Treasury has stated only 80% of the funds are slated for waste related projects with the remainder going into consolidated revenue (or debt repayment).

Budget implications for Local Councils:

Local councils who need to implement the waste levy may have issues with its execution due to staff training and the potential upgrade of systems over the next 6 months which will incur a cost burden to councils.

However, the waste levy does provide new opportunities:

  • Firstly, are funds available (noted above) for the Council to implement waste recycling centres?
  • Secondly, financially proficient local governments may use the additional 5% of the rebate (or $3.50 per tonne) into landfill provisions which are seriously short across the state.

Don’t be surprised too if many unmanned waste transfer stations or bin depots have a dramatic increase in waste in 2019 as people (and small business) look for sneaky ways to avoid paying the levy.

Budget implications for the waste industry:

Like in NSW, Queensland landfill companies now become a revenue collector for the government. Disposal rates for construction and demolition waste at many landfills is around $35 to $40 per tonne and this will jump to over $100 the day the levy is implemented. As a result, most of the revenue will be directed to government coffers. Nevertheless, they to have the opportunity to implement waste recovery facilities.

Budget implications for households and businesses:

Whilst many political leaders have said that households will not be affected, they inevitably will be. For instance, when it comes to hiring a skip bin for house cleanouts/ building and renovations, the cost of these services will skyrocket to absorb the waste levy costs. Business owners of restaurants, shopping centres, sporting stadiums, and other asset owners will also need to increase their retail costs to absorb the costs. 

Keiran Travers is the Director of Harbak and UTL Utilities. He has had over 20 years’ experience in the waste management industry and is an expert in project procurement, project management, and strategy. Harbak provides Business Management, Business Matchmaking, Business Development and Advisory Services for a wide range of professional services to organisations, waste management, and mining-related companies as well as local governments. UTL Utilities is a specialist waste management consultancy that provides procurement, strategy, and infrastructure advisory services to local governments. If you would like further information regarding the impacts of the waste levy, email Keiran at