NT’s proposed levy a step in the right direction

12 January 2022

News that the Northern Territory government is considering the introduction of a waste levy has been hailed a significant step towards a new era for waste and resource recovery (WARR) in the territory by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR).

As part of the NT’s draft Circular Economy Strategy 2022-2027, which is now open for public consultation, the government has committed to investigating a waste levy framework that is suitable for the territory context, in a bid to incentivise materials recovery and reprocessing, and divert waste from landfill.

“A waste levy is not a silver bullet but it is an important cog in an integrated WARR system as it is a proven economic tool that places value on secondary material and supports landfill diversion. When used as part of a suite of government instruments and levers, and when levy monies are invested in the waste and resource recovery industry, it has the power to incentivise and drive resource recovery, which will grow jobs, industries, and investment in the territory,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said, adding: “After all, we know that 2.8 jobs are created for every 10,000 tonnes of waste that is landfilled compared with 9.2 jobs for recycling.”

NT is the next jurisdiction to jump on the waste levy bandwagon, with levies already legislated in Victoria, NSW, SA, WA, and Queensland. Tasmania has announced it will introduce a levy in mid-2022.

“The NT government must be congratulated for turning its eye towards the levers and mechanisms that will assist in driving its resource recovery rate up and creating investment in resource recovery infrastructure and therefore, new jobs in the NT. The release of its draft circular economy strategy is also an indication that the government acknowledges that business as usual is not an option and that we need to find pathways to transition from a linear economy to one that is steeped in circular principles,” Ms Sloan said.

“The great news is that the NT can learn from a host of other states on how to design a best practice levy framework, including appropriate levy rates that will incentivize resource recovery and remanufacturing within the territory, the adequate transition period required, how it will transparently reinvest levy monies – WMRR advocates for a minimum of 50% waste levy funds to be reinvested back into industry annually – as well as what types of incentives should be offered to drive resource recovery, remanufacturing, and importantly, the use of recycled content.

“The NT currently has the lowest resource recovery and recycling rate in the country at 19% but with a robust circular economy strategy supported by a waste levy on the horizon, the territory can start to make the structural shifts that it needs to drive improved WARR outcomes. WMRR looks forward to engaging with the government as it designs its levy framework and finalises its circular economy strategy,” Ms Sloan said.