Focus on Tasmania's wider waste strategy should not be lost in welcoming the first step toward a long-awaited container refund scheme, Australia's peak waste recovery body says.
Environment Minister Elise Archer announced Thursday the state government would implement a scheme by 2022, after years of lobbying from the community, environmental groups and local government.
But the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia has now put the government on notice over its broader policy in the area, with a draft waste action plan an early part of its second-year agenda.
"It's easy to announce a [container scheme]", said WMRR chief executive Gayle Sloan. "You still need to have that bigger picture."
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An expert reference group would be established to provide advice prior to legislating the scheme, Ms Archer said Thursday. A tender process would then be opened, with the scheme to be implemented by 2022.
The release of the government's draft waste action plan, aiming to make Tasmania the state with the lowest incidence of litter, is earmarked for the end of June.
That plan is now a "massive piece of the puzzle missing", Ms Sloan said. "It's a great opportunity to bring a polluter pays model to Tasmania."
The government has said the plan would be developed in collaboration with experts and stakeholders, in accordance with the 2018 National Waste Policy.
It has also said the plan would not include a landfill levy, leaving Tasmania and the Northern Territory as the only states or territories without one. Victoria is now alone without a container refund scheme - either planned or in operation.
Robert Kelman, who has worked on container refund schemes for almost two decades and supported the NSW, Queensland and WA governments in designing them, described Thursday's news as a "strong reform".
With much of the community engaged with the issue of marine plastic pollution and China no longer taking mixed plastic rubbish, Mr Kelman also said the move came at an "opportune time".
He added the time-frame was reasonable to allow the private sector - which generally steps in to provide the infrastructure involved - to prepare after legislation is finalised.
The announcement was also welcomed this week, with some words of caution, by the Greens. Both the Local Government Association of Tasmania and the Tasmanian Small Business Council also greeted the news.
Plastic Free Launceston spokeswoman Trish Haeusler said the planned scheme was "great to hear" about. "We can make some money out of all these containers we collect now," she said.
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