Tasmania’s circular ambitions hang in the balance this week

9 March 2022

It could potentially be a significant week for Tasmanians with economic and environmental opportunities on the horizon if both the landfill levy and Container Refund Scheme (CRS) are passed in Parliament. As one of the few jurisdictions in Australia that hasn’t put a price on valuable resources or turned its eye towards effectively managing beverage containers, the Tasmanian Labor Party’s attempt to frustrate progress of the Acts at the end of last year is thoroughly disappointing.

“A waste disposal levy is an important economic tool to divert waste from landfill, incentivise recycling and resource recovery, and create jobs and investment in Tasmania. Meanwhile, container refund schemes have had proven success in reducing litter and plastic pollution, increasing recycling, creating jobs and putting money back in householders’ pockets, and bringing investment to jurisdictions. A CRS also represents a genuine polluters-pay scheme where the generators of products are responsible for the cost of managing end-of-life materials as well as re-using post-consumer recyclate in product design,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said

“The data alone makes for a compelling case to push forward with these initiatives - recycling creates 9.2 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes compared with 2.8 for landfilling. And to those who continue to insist that the levy is but a tax, this is a short-sighted and misunderstood stance. The levy can and should be avoided by recycling instead of landfilling and in doing so, we capture opportunities to reduce materials to landfill as well as lower our reliance on virgin materials by closing the loop, which will not only mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, we will start to bring investment – and ultimately jobs – to higher order material management such as recycling, reprocessing, and remanufacturing.”

WMRR notes that in a business-as-usual scenario, where recovery rates, which have been dropping in Tasmania, do not change, the impact of the levy would be about $18 per year for households. This equates to returning 180 containers through the CRS – just a little over three (3) containers a week.

“But we are not aiming for business-as-usual if our vision is to create three (3) times more jobs through recycling. However, without the right levers such as the landfill levy, it will continue to be extremely challenging for Tasmania to attract the investment it needs to build its resource recovery capabilities and capacities, which require significant capital expenditure,” Ms Sloan said.

“Not only is the levy the appropriate tool, the funds collected should be re-invested back into the waste and resource recovery industry to further stimulate growth and investment, and nationally, WMRR has been calling for at least 50% of these funds to be re-invested to build these environmental and economic opportunities.

“These reforms, which have been proven across Australia, will drive Tasmania towards a more circular economy where a price and value are placed on materials in order to incentivise higher order uses of our end-of-life materials, mitigate carbon emissions, and provide funding to build a robust and integrated waste and resource recovery system.

“The Labor Party is standing in the way of Tasmania’s environmental progress and worse, it is trying to jeopardise significant and positive reforms that have been on the table since 2019, reforms that will drive numerous benefits for the environment and community. Over the last two (2) years, the waste and resource recovery industry, charities, local governments, environment groups, and the community – all of whom unanimously support the proposed CRS scheme and its roll-out timeframe – have been working towards rolling out the scheme, and the Labor Party has been silent all this time,” Ms Sloan added.

“The Labor Party needs to get with the program and support these reforms that will progress Tasmania’s circular ambitions and bring it on par with the rest of Australia.”