Landfill levy no solution: WALGA

16/07/2009 - 00:00

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STATE government disincentives to the disposal of waste in landfill have met with an unfavourable response from local governments, which say they were not consulted in the policy's development and that they will not benefit from its introduction.

Landfill levy no solution: WALGA

STATE government disincentives to the disposal of waste in landfill have met with an unfavourable response from local governments, which say they were not consulted in the policy's development and that they will not benefit from its introduction.

Environment Minister Donna Farragher and Treasurer Troy Buswell last month announced a 300 per cent increase in landfill levy charges originally mooted in this year's budget would not come into effect until January 1 2010.

The landfill levy will then increase from $7 to $28 per tonne for household rubbish, and from $3 to $12 per tonne of inert industrial waste.

The 2009-10 state budget forecasts the increased levy will produce $39 million in extra income for the state. But according to the budget, diversion from landfill will not increase, with a recycling rate of 40 per cent forecast for both 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.

According to a statement released by opposition environment spokesperson Sally Talbot late last month, the state government has overestimated the amount of revenue it expects to raise from the 300 per cent rise in the landfill levy.

The statement said Waste Authority chairman Barry Carbon told an estimates and financial operations committee in June it would be "wildly optimistic" to expect to raise $39 million in revenue from the levy increase.

Mr Carbon told the committee the increase in the levy would act as a deterrent to recycling rather than encourage it, with the amount of waste being sent to landfill dramatically reduced because of the effect of the economic downturn on the building industry.

According to the statement, despite its position as the expert committee on waste management in WA, the Waste Authority had not been consulted about the levy increase.

The impact on local government authorities will result in the average householder being charged an estimated extra $24 per year through local council rates.

WA Local Government Association president Bill Mitchell told WA Business News that, before the government announced the levy delay, the majority of the increased revenue collected would not contribute to waste management initiatives.

"Of the $28 announced in the budget, seven of those dollars will go to alternative waste management systems, which has been the case in the past, but $21 will go directly to the department of environment and conservation for general purpose revenue," he said.

"It's a tax that's being raised on metropolitan residents only, that will be spent statewide, not on the purpose for which it was raised, which is obviously waste avoidance."

Mr Mitchell said the "exorbitant" increase in landfill levies would not encourage consumers to recycle.

He said the increase would result in increased illegal dumping of waste in Perth's parks and reserves.

"The cost of recycling is very high and to add a disincentive like this onto landfill isn't going to do anything for recycling," he said.

"Local government handles about 30 per cent of the waste stream, and recycles about 30 per cent of that stream.

"That other 70 per cent of the waste stream is industry, and their recycling is quite low, so if you wanted to add an incentive for industry to start recycling then perhaps a differential tax might have been appropriate."

Mr Mitchell said instead of a landfill levy being used to encourage recycling, a more appropriate measure would be the introduction of container deposit legislation.

"The government and the previous government have been procrastinating over this for at least eight years, and if a 10-cent deposit was put onto drink containers then that would be probably the most positive recycling direction the government could take," he said.

 

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