Australia: The future of waste management in Queensland


  • Local governments and the private sector in the waste industry.


  • There are legislative and policy reforms in respect of waste management within Queensland.


  • Keep up to date with the legislative changes in respect of waste management.

The Queensland Government has made a range of legislative and policy reforms with respect to the management of the waste industry which will significantly change the way in which we deal with waste in Queensland.

This article identifies the legislative and policy reform introduced by the Queensland Government and considers the emerging trend in waste to energy infrastructure and the issues which local governments and participants in the waste industry should note.

Legislative reform

From 1 July 2018, chapter 5A of the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008 (Qld), which regulates the provision of waste management services for local governments, expires. The expiry of chapter 5A transfers the regulation of waste management to local governments. The Queensland Government has now taken to setting the strategic direction and approach to resource recovery, recycling and waste management for Queensland.

From 1 July 2018, local governments will need to consider regulating the provision of waste management in its local government area by way of a local law.

Policy reform: Transforming Queensland's Recycling and Waste Industry Directions Paper

The Queensland Government has released The Transforming Queensland's Recycling and Waste Industry Directions Paper which provides a comprehensive waste management strategy to attract industry investment and innovation, create new jobs, ensure no direct impact on Queensland households, deliver long-term value to the environment and move Queensland towards a circular economy.

The directions paper builds on the Queensland Waste Avoidance and Resource Productivity Strategy (2014 – 2024) (Waste Strategy) which identifies the State's strategic targets, objectives and priorities for waste management.

The Waste Strategy has set a landfill diversion target to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by 15% over the life of the Waste Strategy. That target, together with the prioritisation to focus on developing new technology, is aimed at facilitating an opportunity for local governments and the private sector to invest in alternative waste technology such as energy from waste infrastructure.

Changes in the international environment

China was Australia's biggest market for recycling waste, however the recent ban on the import of Australian plastics, textiles and paper is expected to put pressure on landfill sites in the long-term if alternative solutions are not provided, including the development of micro-industries in recycling and manufacturing.

Queensland State budget

With the introduction of the waste levy, the State has allocated $100 million over the next three years to support Queensland's resource recovery and recycling industry through the Resource Recovery Industry Program in the 2018-2019 State budget. The program aims to facilitate private sector and local government projects delivering innovative solutions to meet the Queensland's strategic targets in the Waste Strategy.

Any project which invests in developing alternate waste management technology such as waste to energy infrastructure may be eligible for funding from the Resource Recovery Industry Development Program.

What is a Waste to Energy Facility?

Such facilities convert waste into energy (such as heat, electricity, gas or liquid fuels) where there is an economically viable end use. Waste to energy facilities can include anaerobic digestion, combustion, pyrolysis gasification and plasma gasification.

An example of a waste to energy facility in Australia is the Kwinana project in Western Australia which will incinerate up to 400,000 tonnes of post-recycling municipal solid waste per annum with the capacity of producing 32MW of electricity per annum (which is estimated to power approximately 46,000 households). The Kwinana project was estimated to create 800 jobs during the construction period and 60 operational jobs upon completion.

Key issues for consideration

Waste to energy facilities are an emerging concept within the Queensland environment and have yet to be fully tested, however given the latest legislative and policy reforms it is important for both local governments and the private sector to bear in mind the following when considering any waste to energy facility project:

  • Planning and environment – The current legislative framework does not provide for an efficient planning and environment approval process to facilitate the development of a waste to energy facility. It is therefore important that early due diligence is undertaken to ensure the most efficient approvals pathway is identified to facilitate the delivery of a waste to energy facility. Things to consider include the interface with the regulatory framework (including development approvals under a local government planning scheme and environmental approvals under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth)) and the interface with the local community and environment (such as eliminating odour and noise pollution).
  • Offtake arrangements – Underpinning the development of the waste to energy facility will be the customers being supplied the energy and other by-products. Will the waste to energy facility, like most biogas and biomass projects, be collocated to a captive customer (e.g. waste from a council owned landfill being converted to energy to fuel council assets) or will the waste to energy facility supply energy back into the national electricity grid at spot market pricing, to a third party aggregator (where a third party manages the sale of the energy combination with other sources of energy) or to a third party under a power purchase agreement? The economic viability of these projects is to be supported by these offtake arrangements and the revenue these arrangements generate.
  • Storage – As battery storage technology improves and becomes more widely available, it will be necessary to consider the application of this technology to waste to energy facilities to determine whether there can be improved economic returns from the project.
  • Quality and quantity of fuel source – Even though there is the desire to turn waste into energy as part of the solution to recycling and landfill challenges now facing governments, it is still important to understand how such technology will work with the expected fuel sources (being the different categories of waste) and the volume of such waste to ensure the appropriate mix of technology and cost is achieved. Some technology can drive better conversion rates but comes at a higher cost. Some technology will only handle certain categories of waste meaning there still remains a process to filter out waste that either should not be used or cannot be used to convert into energy or other by-products. It will be important to get the specification of this right, as this will be the basis of the design of the facility and the obligation of councils to provide the volume of waste to support the expected revenue streams.
  • Contract structure – Setting up the correct contractual framework to design, construct, operate and maintain a waste to energy facility is important to ensure that the following risks for both local governments and the private sector in delivering the waste to energy facility are managed. Some of the key issues to consider include managing service performance, remuneration for the construction and operation and maintenance of the waste to energy facility (e.g. whether there will be 'take or pay' arrangements, separate payment of capital costs or traditional utility charges only), insurance, ownership and funding arrangements (particularly where off-balance sheet considerations are necessary and the private sector funds the construction). Additionally, there may be opportunity to obtain separate revenue streams from renewable energy certificates or carbon credit units, which needs to be factored into the remuneration structure, with clear identification of who owns these revenues.
  • Managing service performance – Upon the commissioning of a waste to energy facility, the primary focus of the operation and management of the waste to energy facility in respect of contract management is the ongoing provision of waste and payment for the waste management services by the relevant authority and the energy supplied. There are certain key considerations in this respect:
    • firstly, ensuring that the structure of the contract between the relevant parties provides for a payment regime which provides both certainty and flexibility (given the long-term nature of the contract) for all parties
    • secondly, local governments should consider regulating waste management services (through a local law) within its local government area such that there is a steady supply of waste to service the waste to energy facility and optimise service performance, and
    • thirdly, ensuring the remuneration structure and performance framework appropriately incentivises the contractor to ensure the energy production is optimised and the customer (e.g. local government) obtains the benefits from the waste to energy facility (including improvement in the diversion from landfill).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions