NT’s proposed waste levy welcomed

NT waste levy

News that the Northern Territory government is considering the introduction of a waste levy has been hailed a significant step toward 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 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.

Gayle Sloan, WMRR Chief Executive Officer, said a waste levy is not a “silver bullet” but it is an important cog in an integrated WARR system.

“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,” Sloan said. “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.”

WMRR is the national peak body for stakeholders in the waste and resource recovery industry. Its priority advocacy areas include streamlining and improving consistency and clarity in state regulatory frameworks and fostering a common approach to landfill levies between states, including the reinvestment of at least 50 per cent of funds raised from levies in the sector.

The NT currently has the lowest resource recovery and recycling rate in Australia at 19 per cent. The draft NT Circular Economy Strategy 2022-2027 maps out a co-ordinated approach across all tiers of government to support and encourage investment by industry, small business and the community to increase waste recovery, reuse and recycling.

It is the latest jurisdiction to consider a waste levy, with levies already legislated in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia 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,” Sloan said.

“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.

“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 incentivise resource recovery and remanufacturing within the territory, the adequate transition period required, how it will transparently reinvest levy monies as well as what types of incentives should be offered to drive resource recovery, remanufacturing, and importantly, the use of recycled content.”

Feedback on the NT Circular Economy Strategy closes on 30 January, 2022.

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