20 June 2019
Taxing waste is a good thing, but Councils shouldn’t carry the can alone
The state’s peak environment body has strongly backed the Marshall Government’s move to significantly increase the Solid Waste Levy.
However, it is calling on all players, including State and Federal Governments, Local Councils, businesses and households to take greater responsibility to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.
“Notwithstanding the amount of consultation and dollars returned to Councils to help them improve their waste and recycling services, increasing the Solid Waste Levy is smart and sensible,” said Conservation SA Chief Executive, Craig Wilkins.
“As a society, it makes sense to tax the things we don't like, and subsidise the things we do. Yet when it comes to the environment, we tend to do the opposite.
“In this case, raising the levy will reduce the incentive in sending far too many of the world's precious resources direct to landfill, rather than recapturing and recycling them,” he said.
Last year's State of the Environment report found that, despite our state's leadership in reducing waste through the hugely popular container deposit scheme, bans on plastic bags and other initiatives, the amount of waste we produce is still going up. In fact, it's going up a lot.
The average amount of waste generated by South Australians increased from 2,000kgs of waste each in 2003-04 to 3,000kgs in 2016-17, a rise of 42%.
“But Councils should not be left to carry the can, and the cost, alone. It makes far more sense for all of us to stop producing waste in the first place, rather than trying to recycle and re-use materials after they have been thrown away.
“Households and businesses can do a hell of a lot more to change their purchasing behaviour, particular around single use and throw away packaging. Also, they can reduce the enormous amount of unnecessary food waste.
“And the State Government has a responsibility to take an informed leadership role in the management of our waste and the recycling infrastructure required to support a progressive waste management system in South Australia.
“Minister Speirs’ proactive stance on single use-plastics is a great move in this direction.
“Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to ensure we don’t needlessly waste vital materials in landfill,” he said.
Media comment: Craig Wilkins, Conservation SA Chief Executive, 0417879 439