Cities Plan Waste Focus

Sustainable Living Tasmania has submitted a representation on the Smart Cities Plan with a focus on waste. A full version of the submission can be seen here or the information can be viewed below. 

Tasmanian waste statistics 

City Deals acknowledge that ‘funding is not enough’ and that ‘success requires all tiers of government, the private sector, and community, to work together towards shared goals’. City Deals also acknowledge that ‘fundamentally, better cities policy starts with a commitment from all levels of government to work together to deliver common goals’.

City Deals promise to ‘position our urban centres, whatever their size, to realise their full potential. They will do this through coordinated governance, strategic planning, investment and reform’.

A City Deal would help Tasmania move towards a more environmentally responsible approach to consumption and disposal. Without the ‘coordinated governance, strategic planning, investment and reform’ that a City Deal offers, the Tasmanian waste crisis will continue. Without Federal Government intervention, we are stuck with the irresponsible status-quo that the State and local Governments insist we operate within.

In the words of the recent Tasmanian Waste Review (2014):

‘Continuation of the status quo represents a risk to the Tasmanian ‘green’ brand important to the success of the Tasmanian tourist industry, as well as an issue for Tasmanian businesses who lack access to best practice recycling/waste disposal pathways and strategic direction on the most efficient use of resources’. It goes on to say that if there is no support for a levy, ‘realistically the Tasmanian community can expect to see only minimalist improvements to waste and recycling’.

Below is a list of issues that we believe need to be addressed by a City Deal, to ensure that the right policy environment and sentiment exists. The sources used to gather the information are:

Container Deposits Scheme – State of Play

Cost Benefit Study of a Tasmanian Container Deposit System – Final Report

National Waste Reporting 2013

EPA Tasmania annual reports

Tasmanian Waste Review

Tasmanian issues to be addressed by a City Deal

Currently the onus for waste management falls to rate paying households, who in turn fund only the cheapest waste management options:

  • Landfill gate fees are too low to cover the true costs of operation, pollution control and rehabilitation.
  • The current landfill rate is around $80 per tonne or less for high annual usage customers. NSW landfills charge around $355 per tonne of which $133 is paid to the State as a levy.

Artificially cheap landfill has caused market failures, undermining recycling and resource recovery opportunities. As a result:

  • 42% of material accepted into our landfills is food and green waste
  • 18% of material accepted into our landfills is cardboard and paper
  • 13% of material accepted into our landfills is recyclable plastics
  • 20% of material accepted into our landfills is building materials
  • 50% of landfill waste is industrial waste and there’s little recovery of materials in this sector
  • 32% of our plastic bottles end up in landfill
  • 75% (or more) of our glass bottles and jars end up in landfill

Waste data is inaccurate, dishonest and very misleading:

  • The State Government claims that we bury 444,136 tonnes per year (2010-2015 average) but this figure does not include concrete rubble, road pavement, glass and bricks
  • The State Government claims that we recycle 163,788 tonnes per year (2010-2015 average) but this tonnage is largely glass, which ends up in Tasmanian landfill

Tasmanian Councils (rate payers) spend millions of dollars every year unnecessarily because:

  • A waste levy and container deposit scheme (CDS) are not in sight for many years to come
  • With no CDS, industry is not obliged to help recover and recycle their empty beverage containers
  • With no waste levy, industry is not obliged to help recover and recycle their resources

Tasmania has never had policies to encourage improve waste management:

  • The Tasmanian waste strategy (2009) has been ignored and not resulted in improvements in waste management. The Waste Review (2014) found that ‘waste management practices and achievements in Tasmania continue to lag behind most other Australian states’ and ‘major improvements are unlikely without significant regulatory intervention’.
  • The State Government has decided to avoid a CDS, despite the net cost of such a scheme (cost of infrastructure provision and refunds net value of recovered material) being funded by beverage manufacturers (or consumers if this cost is passed on through higher prices of products).
  • Management of contamination to land, air and waterways from our big six landfills (Copping, Dulverton, Glenorchy, Hobart, Launceston and Burnie) and numerous closed landfill sites in Tasmania is predominantly not best practice.