Waste Levy inequities loom large over Council

Hawkesbury City Council is asking the NSW Government to review the Waste Levy placed on the Hawkesbury community following a Mayoral Minute by the Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Barry Calvert at a Council Meeting on 12 May.

“Currently, Hawkesbury City Council is paying millions of dollars annually to the NSW Government to put rubbish in our own tip,” Mayor Calvert said.

“For 2018/2019, our Hawkesbury community members were taxed $3.16 million for the Waste Levy. That’s $1.3 million more than if Hawkesbury was within the Regional Waste Levy Area, as the Councils of Blue Mountains and Wollondilly are classified under the NSW Environment Protection Authority Waste Levy Boundaries.

“It really is an inequitable and an inconsistent application of the NSW Environment Protection Authority Waste Levy when it comes to Hawkesbury City Council,” he said.

“Hawkesbury City Council is also asking for higher levels of reinvestment for the Hawkesbury community and for Local Government.”

As recommended in the Mayoral Minute, Council will contact the State Member of Parliament, Ms Robyn Preston as well contact the Minister for the Environment Mr Matt Kean, the State Treasurer the Hon. Mr Dominic Perrottet and other relevant Ministers, and the NSW Environment Protection Authority, about the Waste Levy inequity and inconsistencies.

Waste Levy Boundaries

Regarding Waste Levy Boundaries, Hawkesbury City Council shares boundaries with Lithgow and Singleton, areas with obvious rural and regional characteristics, yet the Hawkesbury Local Government Area has been placed within the Metropolitan Levy Area.

Other peri-urban Councils with similar circumstances, for example Blue Mountains and Wollondilly, are situated within the Regional Levy Area. This difference in categorisation means that for 2019/2020, Hawkesbury City Council pays the Metropolitan Waste Levy amount of $143.60 per tonne compared to the Regional Waste Levy of $82.70 per tonne.

“Many people in our community would be shocked to find out that the NSW Government taxes Councils for putting their own community’s rubbish into their own Waste Management Facilities. Our community needs to know about this,” the Mayor said.

As well as raising this as a community issue, the Mayoral Minute is seeking to get a fairer distribution of this tax, the Waste Levy, across the State and a greater level of return back to councils, particularly Hawkesbury.

“We need greater financial resources to improve waste management to reduce landfill, but it is a vicious cycle: the State Government takes the money away from us, so we can’t afford to address the problem, so the State Government keeps taking the money away from us because we don’t further reduce landfill,” he said.

“We’re trying to break this cycle by requesting that the State Government does not tax us at the same level as city councils because we are not a city council. Secondly, we want the State Government to give most of this money, if not all of it, back to local councils so that we can use it for community campaigns and strategies to actually reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill.

“Some suggestions by Councillors at the Council Meeting included that we could have a state of the art waste management facility with this money, a proper resource recovery facility – or ‘tip shop’ – which the community has been calling for over a number of years, and that we could make better use of food waste and garden organics, have more solar power on site and, ultimately, achieve full resource recovery. We could also develop anti-dumping programs and increase our recycling options,” Mayor Calvert said.

“Instead, we collect $3.16 million for the Waste Levy from the Hawkesbury which goes into general State Government revenue. Hawkesbury City Council only gets back around $100,000 per year.”

The $100,000 is spent on successful educational and awareness initiatives including:

  • Domestic Waste Audit
  • Waste 2 Art Competition
  • Clean Up Australia Day
  • Compost Revolution
  • Waste Project Officer
  • Developing a Waste Management Strategy
  • Improvements at the Waste Management Facility
  • Second Hand Saturday
  • Public Place Recycling
  • Remote Area – Household Problem Waste Collection Event.

“To their credit, many of our residents have heeded our educational messages over many years about reduce, reuse, recycle. We’ve seen improvements in recycling and green waste separation. But there is only so far they can go with their waste – we now need to implement new strategies, improved infrastructure and new ways of dealing with waste,” Mayor Calvert said.

“Our residents are asking for better reuse and recycling strategies, better waste management infrastructure and we are asking for this to be rectified by the State Government by returning the Waste Levy to the Hawkesbury.

“The Waste Levy was created in 1971 by the NSW Government at $0.56 per tonne, with the aim of reducing waste going into landfill. However, the beneficial outcomes have long expired and the amount of landfill is still increasing,” he said.

“Council is serious about addressing the inequities of the Waste Levy. We will also organise a delegation to meet with the State Member for Hawkesbury, Ms Preston and relevant Ministers,” the Mayor concluded.

Local Government NSW is running a ‘Save Our Recycling’ campaign which Hawkesbury is a part of, which argues for 100% Reinvestment of the Waste Levy; for more information, visit here.

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