22 February 2023


Hon. MAJ SCANLON (Gaven—ALP) (Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef
and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs) (2.00 pm):

I am pleased to rise to introduce the Waste Reduction and Recycling and Other Legislation
Amendment Bill 2023. The Palaszczuk government is focused on reducing the amount of waste that
goes to landfill while bringing down greenhouse gas emissions and creating more jobs in Queensland’s recycling and resource recovery industry. This is an industry that already contributes $1.5 billion to the
state’s economy each year and supports 12,000 jobs, and we want that to grow. We have set an
ambitious but achievable target to halve our food waste, to stop 80 per cent of material from ending up
in landfill and to recycle 65 per cent of our rubbish by 2030. That is why our $1.1 billion Recycling and
Jobs Fund will be investing in new green bins for households, rolling out statewide behaviour change
campaigns and co-investing with councils and industry to deliver even more recycling infrastructure
across the state, because when a product is no longer useful or required for its initial purpose we want
it to be re-used, recycled or remanufactured right here in Queensland.

Beyond our investment though, we know that to shift the dial we need to get the policy settings
right. That is why this bill is so important. These amendments will embed circular economy principles
into our Waste Reduction and Recycling Act because the current ‘take-make-dispose’ approach is not
sustainable. By embedding these principles across all aspects of the products that we design,
manufacture and use we will enable improved resource recovery and reduce the long-term
environmental impacts of these products.

This bill also enacts the Palaszczuk government’s 2021 announcement that we would remove
the automatic levy exemption for clean earth delivered to a leviable waste disposal site. It will also fulfil
Labor’s 2022 commitment to ban the release of lighter-than-air balloons from 1 September this year as
part of our five-year action plan on single-use plastics.

The amendments proposed in this bill will, firstly, provide a head of power in the definition of
‘waste’ to prescribe through regulation that a thing is not a waste and move the definition of ‘waste’ from
the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011. This is a
technical amendment, but what it will deliver is security for those wanting to invest in circular economy
products, ensuring that valuable materials are not classed as waste materials, meaning that they can
be more readily remanufactured or repurposed—for example, using tyre crumb from end-of-life tyres
for road construction or turning glass containers like those collected through Containers for Change into
new glass bottles. This change will complement Queensland’s existing end-of-waste framework and
will send a strong signal to industry that it can invest in Queensland with confidence.

Secondly, this bill will introduce circular economy principles within the Waste Reduction and
Recycling Act. By embedding these principles into the legislation, we are making it clear what our
intentions are and that where waste can be diverted from landfill it should be. Next, this bill will change
the review date for the waste strategy to five years. All levels of government are working together as
we strive to increase resource recovery and reduce our waste and its impact on our environment.
Making this amendment gives us better flexibility to deploy resources to on-ground action as well as to
better assess performance against those targets. This is about getting things done, not just talking about

This bill will also remove the automatic levy exemption from clean earth and the subsequent
removal of the definition of ‘clean earth’. Clean earth is a valuable product important for things like
building retaining walls, filling construction sites and other construction uses like landscaping. Through
this change, we are incentivising its re-use. As announced in December 2021, the removal of the clean
earth levy exemption will commence on 1 July 2023 and will bring Queensland in line with other states
including New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia where the waste levy applies to any clean
earth disposed of in a landfill or waste facility. This does not prevent project operators or landfill
operators from using clean earth beneficially as an alternative to disposal at a waste facility. Additionally,
landfill operators can apply for an operational purpose exemption where clean earth that is delivered to
a leviable waste disposal site is used for good operation and maintenance of the site. Where this
applies, the clean earth does not attract a leviable liability and provides a pathway to the beneficial use
of clean earth. Other jurisdictions have similar mechanisms to enable beneficial use of clean earth at

This bill will also provide the ability for the chief executive to make a decision about amending or
suspending a resource recovery area declaration. The current legislation only permits the chief
executive to revoke a resource recovery area in response to identified compliance issues. Once a
resource recovery area has been revoked under current legislation, the area is quarantined for
12 months before a resource recovery area can be declared. There is no current escalation pathway
for enforcement to remedy compliance matters beyond the revocation power. The benefit of the chief
executive being able to make a decision about amending or suspending a resource recovery area is
that it provides greater flexibility and enforcement escalation pathways in dealing with investigations of
activities on resource recovery areas. For example, if the chief executive decided to amend or suspend
a resource recovery area to undertake an investigation of activities on the site, where the chief executive
decides not to take further action following the investigation the resource recovery area can continue to
operate. It is a better outcome for industry and the community, ensuring we can more easily take
compliance action where facilities may have done the wrong thing while ensuring we do not have an
unintended consequence of rolling back recycling. Additionally, the chief executive will also be given
the ability to make an annual waste levy payment to a local government if satisfied that the payment is

Last year I launched our five-year road map to phase out problematic single-use plastics and this
bill is a part of that, providing a head of power for a ban on the outdoor release of lighter-than-air
balloons. Although balloon releases are currently considered to be littering under the littering provisions
of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act, the introduction of a ban on the release of lighter-than-air
balloons provides clarity and certainty and is a preventative measure to avoid the action that leads to
littering. In the lead-up to the commencement of the ban, extensive information will be provided to assist
with this understanding. This ban is intended to commence from 1 September 2023.

Finally, this bill will provide an expiry of 31 December 2025 for the exemption from the ban for an
otherwise banned single-use plastic item that is integral to shelf-ready products. This amendment will
provide a time limited exemption for items that would otherwise be banned unless they are integral to a
shelf-ready product like a plastic straw attached to a popper. The expiry of 2025 is consistent with the
national packaging target that 100 per cent of all Australian packaging is re-useable, recyclable or
compostable by 2025. While many of these changes proposed in the bill are technical in nature, they
take us another step forward to a zero-waste Queensland.

In conclusion, I wanted to reflect on how important taking serious action on waste is for the
economy because for every job in the landfill sector there are three times as many jobs in recycling; for
the environment to stop pollution going into our waterways and protected areas and to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions; and for communities across the state. Unlike the opposition, which repealed
the waste levy and made Queensland the dumping ground of the country, we are prepared to do the
hard work to shift the dial—to make the reforms that deliver change, to roll out infrastructure we need,
to deliver on our targets. This bill is the next step in our transition to a circular economy.