Why is NSW Paying More Waste Levy?

News > Why is NSW Paying More Waste Levy?

Waste levies have been instigated by state governments in NSW, VIC, SA and WA and are applied to many materials being sent to landfills, a cost which consumers must incur at some point or another. This happens when they are disposing of items which either cannot be recycled or cannot recycled economically. Making recycling of these wastes economical is the point of having a waste levy, ie that at some price point the majority of wastes currently landfilled will be economical to recover from the waste stream. 

When explained simply it would seem that the higher the levy the more that will get recycled, this however is not the case because in many cases the infrastructure simply does not exist because of legislative, financial or practical barriers. For instance currently we don't operate incineration technologies in NSW as the EPA does not allow Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to be used as a fuel for Waste to Energy plants. These plants are used extensively in Europe where many progressive countries have achieved diversion from landfill in the high 90 percentiles.

A major inhibitor of achieving better recycling rates in municipal solid waste (MSW) is the fact that councils bundle the charge for waste collection in with the rates. This means that apart from a volume restriction residents don't have any clear incentive to separate their wastes into different bins as directed by the local council. It has been shown in research that by using a Pay As You Throw (PAYT) system recycling rates increase around 40%. These systems usually include specialized bags or tags which are paid for up front or actually weighing the waste being collected. Weight Based Charging for Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste streams would also be a positive move and would heavily impact recycling in this sector.

The high cost of disposal in NSW has triggered other issues including a surge in illegal dumping activities which has led to the state government spending $58M over five years to combat the problem. While it cannot be argued that the government is doing nothing about this problem continuing to put more financial pressure on those who are unwilling to pay by continuing to increase the levy seems illogical.

  • Authored By:Nathanael Shergold
  • Updated:16/04/2015