Waste policy and legislation changes
Commencement of Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2023
The Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2023 (WRR Regulation) commenced on 25 August 2023. Following a sunset review, the WRR Regulation was introduced to replace the Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011 which was due to expire. Read further information on the WRR Regulation.
Waste Reduction and Recycling and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2023
This page provides information on updates to the policy and legislative framework for the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011.
The Waste Reduction and Recycling and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2023 (the WRROLA Act) commenced on 2 June 2023. The WRROLA Act supports the Queensland Government’s commitment to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and create more jobs in Queensland’s recycling and resource recovery industry. The WRROLA Act amends the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 and also makes consequential amendments to the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and the Waste Reduction and Recycling Regulation 2011.
Notable amendments to the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 include:
- introducing the circular economy principle as a key policy principle into the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011. The circular economy principle is to promote waste avoidance and minimise the impact of waste on the environment and human health. All products and materials should be kept in the economy for as long as they have value or remain useful. The WRROLA Act provides for the circular economy principle to be considered in Queensland’s waste management strategy, and in State entity and local government’s waste reduction and recycling plans.
- removes the general exemption to the waste levy for clean earth that is disposed of in a waste disposal site. This amendment will apply from 1 July 2023. Where clean earth is used for purposes necessary for the on-site operation of a levyable waste disposal site, operators can apply to the department for approval of clean earth as exempt waste. For more information on the change to the levy exemption for clean earth including options for landfill operators please visit the clean earth removal FAQ.
- moves the definition of waste from the Environmental Protection Act 1994 to the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 to provide greater clarity and certainty around waste and the circular economy. In addition, the definition of waste has been amended to provide a process for a thing to be prescribed by regulation to no longer be a waste. This will provide a clearer pathway to support and incentivise remanufacturing or repurposing certain materials and provide security for investment in circular economy industries.
- bans the outdoor release of lighter-than-air balloons from 1 September 2023. The ban excludes hot air balloons and balloons used for scientific research such as weather balloons.
- sets an end date for the exemption on single use plastic items that are an integral part of a shelf ready product (for example a straw on a juice box or a fork in a prepacked salad). Community, business and industry have shown strong support to expand the ban of single-use plastic items. The WRROLA amendments set an expiry date of 1 January 2026 for the exclusion of these integrated plastic items. The department will continue to work with community, business and industry to ensure they are aware of and are able to comply with the requirements of the ban. For further information please visit About the ban.
- provides the ability for the chief executive to request a landfill operator show cause why their resource recovery area should not be amended or suspended. The new power complements the existing ability for the chief executive to revoke a resource recovery area declaration where a compliance matter has been identified. As the effect of revocation is that the resource recovery area cannot be used for resource recovery activities for 12 months, the new power provides an alternate enforcement pathway to remedy compliance matters while ensuring that (where appropriate) resource recovery activities can continue.
The WRROLA Act also:
- changes the review periods for the State’s waste management strategy from three to five years to align with the interim targets set in the strategy
- changes the review date for state entity and local government waste reduction and recycling plans from three to five years
- includes provisions for the chief executive to grant an additional amount to a local government to mitigate any direct effects of the waste levy on households at the request of the local government.