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Energy from Waste in NQ

Energy from Waste in NQ

Development of Energy from Waste (EfW) in NQ will reduce the impact of waste on the environment and assist in the transition towards a circular economy while building economic opportunity and jobs from generation of green energy opportunities.

Content accurate as of July 2020.

The Australian Government has announced that from 1 January 2021, waste export bans for Australia will commence with unprocessed glass. Mixed plastics will be banned from export by 1 July 2021. Whole used tyres will be banned from 1 December 2021, single resin/polymer plastics 1 July 2022 and missed and unsorted paper and cardboard 1 July 2024. This means the industry needs to transform and the amount of waste material that stays in Australia will increase and needs to be recycled and reprocessed into value-added products here.

Queensland’s waste management and resource recovery strategy provides a framework to reduce the amount of waste we generate and grow the resource recovery and recycling industry and create new jobs. This strategy is underpinned by the Waste Levy which commenced on 1 July 2019. The levy zone includes 39 out of 77 local government areas. It covers around 90 per cent of Queensland’s population and is where the majority of waste is generated and disposed. The levy aims to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, encourage waste avoidance, provide a source of funding to enable better resource recovery practices, provide certainty and security of feedstocks for advanced technology and facilitate industry investment in resource recovery infrastructure. The levy is currently $75/tonne and will increase by $5/tonne on 1 July each year.

Councils have historically relied upon landfills as the primary method of managing residual waste. Landfill capacity across the NQ Regional Organisation of Councils (NQROC) is becoming constrained, and development of a new site is a challenging process. Existing approved landfill capacity needs to be extended as long as reasonably practicable via the introduction of alternative waste management methods.

Furthermore, the legislative and policy context governing the waste industry at a national, state and local level is rapidly changing to support the transition away from the reliance on landfills for waste management. There is a national and state target of 80% average resource recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030. Achievement of this target will not be possible without EfW.

Furthermore, the Queensland Government has committed to achieving a target of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 of which waste from energy can make a contribution towards. The current inefficiencies in the electricity network drive the case for increased power generation in North Queensland, given most of the generation assets are highly concentrated in the South East and Central regions of the state.

Given the renewable energy target and the North Queensland region's ideal conditions for renewable energy projects, waste from energy can make a valuable contribution in this space if there are supporting policy mechanisms in place to allow projects to proceed.

The NQ Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2020 – 2030 outlines introduction of a small scale EfW technology in the region enabling achievement of strategic waste management priorities. An initial technical assessment has been undertaken indicating likely viability for a small-scale EfW plant. NQROC to proceed with a Detailed Business Case as a priority to further demonstrate feasibility. Potential for regional waste flows to support an EfW facility in the region by 2030.

Waste Levy Increase
Current Policy

Queensland Government has introduced a waste levy of $75/tonne.

Proposed Policy

Legislation currently provides for $5/tonne per annum increase on levy rate until 2022.

Government and industry require certainty around the future levy rate to model financial viability of an EfW facility.

Introduction of clear legislation that provides certainty for the future.

Responsibility
  • Queensland Government
Waste Levy Offset
Current Policy

Queensland Government currently provides annual payments to Local Government to offset the cost of the waste levy on households.

Proposed Policy

The annual payment is currently only guaranteed until 2022.

Local Government and industry require certainty around the future of the annual payment to assess financial viability and drive investment in EfW.

Commitment to continuing the offset payment for the waste levy until 2027.

Responsibility
  • Queensland Government
Waste Strategy Collaboration
Current Policy

Currently there are three levels of government with three different waste strategies.

Proposed Policy

Collaboration between all governments, business, the waste industry and the community will be critical, with no party able to deliver change alone.

Facilitate the process to develop enablers with key stakeholders to allow private sector investment to proceed.

Responsibility
  • Queensland Government
Landfill Levy
Current Policy

The Queensland Landfill levy is generating significant revenue, providing the government with a funding pool that has the opportunity to move the economy towards circularity.

Proposed Policy

The levy funds should be redistributed to local government to assist in funding regionally significant infrastructure programs such as EfW.

Queensland Government to develop a transparent and efficient process for the management and distribution of levy funds to deliver long-term sustainable solutions.

Responsibility
  • Queensland Government
Waste Infrastructure Planning
Current Policy

Currently in Queensland, there is a lack of long-term waste infrastructure planning. Some work has been done to assess the current state of play however this has not been released.

Proposed Policy

Off the back of the assessment of the current infrastructure situation, the State government should develop a long-term (30 year) infrastructure plan, including 5-10 year plans, and the framework for periodic review.

Queensland Government to develop 30 Year Infrastructure Plan.

Responsibility
  • Queensland Government
Land Use Planning
Current Policy

There is a lack of co-ordinated land use planning around EfW and likely land is not designated in local or state planning schemes.

Proposed Policy

Include waste and resource recovery as a state interest in state and local government land use planning schemes, therefore elevating its priority.

Responsibility
  • Queensland Government
  • Local Government
Landfill Bans
Current Policy

Currently the legislation exists for landfill bans however very few products are prohibited.

Proposed Policy

Increase transparency around future landfill bans to allow certainty of feedstock for an EfW technology.

Responsibility
  • Queensland Government's Department of Environment and Science (DES)

Every year, materials are unnecessarily disposed into landfill. The value of those resources is lost, and in doing so losing the opportunity to create jobs. For every 10,000 tonnes of waste that is recycled, there are 9.2 jobs created compared to only 2.8 jobs if the material goes to landfill.

If 80% is recovered, this means approximately 275,000 tonnes of material will be diverted from landfill across the NQROC region.

Policy

Policies that support the implementation of EfW are:

  • National Waste Policy and Action Plan 2019
  • Queensland Government Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy
  • NQROC Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2020 – 2030
  • Draft North Queensland Regional Waste Infrastructure Plan
  • Energy from Waste Policy Queensland
  • Australian Government Renewable Energy Target
  • Queensland Renewable Energy Plan
  • Advanced Queensland Biofutures Roadmap.
Programs
  • Sun Metals Integrated Industrial Energy Resource Program
Projects
  • Lansdown Eco Industrial Precinct
  • Waste to Energy (NQT-1067)
  • Development of the TSDA
  • Production of Refuse Derived Fuel to replace coal
  • Establishment of a BioHub to produce fertiliser, heat, and electricity and manage agricultural wastes