On 25 February 2013 the NSW Minister for Environment announced a $465.7 million waste management initiative, ‘Waste Less, Recycle More. This follows KPMG’s recent independent review of the waste levy system. The package will be rolled out over 5 years. This package includes significant funding for both new infrastructure and the “renovation” of existing infrastructure, as well as programs aimed both at industry and councils. The initiative presents significant opportunities for those involved in the waste industry.

Some highlights of the package are as follows:

$250 million Waste and Recycling Infrastructure package, including:

  • $70 million to the Organics Infrastructure fund and program, with $43 million in contestable grants over 4 years. This is largely aimed at supporting new and renovated infrastructure and equipment to process co-collected food and garden organics;
  • $70 million for improving systems for household problem wastes, by creating and managing a network of drop-off centres across NSW;
  • $60 million for the Waste and Recycling Infrastructure fund, to target waste generated in waste levy regulated areas, including business and industry waste. Specific target areas include recovering recyclables from sorted and unsorted waste, reuse, recycling and reprocessing recyclable materials, as well as energy recovery from residual business and household waste. Contestable grants will be open to councils, groups of councils, not-for-profit organisations and industry including for renovating and upgrading infrastructure and building and upgrading transfer stations;
  • Business Recycling program of $35 million over 5 years, to fund large scale sorting facilities for mixed waste streams from business and industry, as well as support the introduction of such recycling services for smaller businesses; and
  • $15 million Recycling Innovation fund, to improve the efficiency of recycling facilities and establish recycled material markets through infrastructure and targeted market support. 

$137.7 to local councils to improve recycling and decrease illegal dumping and littering, including:

  • $38.7 million, to be paid out in early 2013 to local councils that pay waste levies, to assist the transition from the Waste and Sustainability Improvement Payment program;
  • $70 million over 4 years, from 1 July 2013, to councils, to improve recycling and reduce littering and illegal dumping;
  • $9 million for councils that pay waste levies to fund regional coordinators, infrastructure planning and the development of Regional Waste Avoidance and Recovery strategies;
  • $7 million to support regional and rural local councils, to facilitate landfill consolidation, including building and upgrading transfer stations and environmental improvements to small landfills servicing rural communities.

Local councils also have exclusive access to $85.1 million of contestable grants and other programs including:

  • $44.3 million to support new and upgraded drop-off centres for household problem waste;
  • $17 million to help local communities and councils establish organics collection systems and community education; and
  • Contestable grant funding and programs, for a further $133.9 million, including for illegal dumping clean-ups, household chemical collections and waste and recycling infrastructure, to support levy paying communities.

There are also some proposed changes to the waste levy.

  • The 10 % levy exemption for virgin excavated natural material disposed of at a landfill will be reinstated, so operators can re-use the material on-site for operational purposes; and
  • A 5-year structural adjustment program by way of graded deductions, will be introduced to assist the three metal shredding operators in NSW modernise their operations.

These changes to the current waste levy program and funding package present a number of opportunities to clients.