The Tasmanian community has long called for a container refund scheme and our government is getting on with the job of delivering the best scheme for Tasmania, tabling the Container Refund Scheme Bill in Parliament this week.
Our scheme will be convenient for the community, provide opportunities for communities and charities, be good for the environment and maximise the number of containers returned and recycled.
We recognise that we have unique circumstances here in Tasmania which is why we have designed a scheme specifically for our state rather than picking something off the shelf.
This was evident at the time of tabling the Bill when I announced our small beverage assistance package.
Our package includes a threshold of 20,000 eligible containers per beverage producer before they pay into the scheme, a grants program to help small Tasmanian companies with the cost of obtaining barcodes and there is no fee for the registering of containers.
This package will assist our small beverage producers to be part of the scheme in a way that no other state or territory container refund scheme has done before.
It also reaffirms the Tasmanian government's commitment to a split responsibility scheme that will bring together the beverage industry and the waste, recycling, and community sectors to deliver the best possible outcomes for Tasmania.
Importantly, the model aims to keep costs down while maximising containers returned.
This model is already operating in NSW and the ACT and is being developed in Victoria and will see people receive a 10 cent refund for returning eligible drink containers to designated Refund Points around the state.
There has been some debate about the merits of various schemes but there is no evidence the split-responsibility CRS model leads to higher costs per container for the beverage industry.
In fact, we've done our own research, and recently published data shows manufacturers paid less per container in NSW (split-responsibility CRS) than Queensland (sole operator model).
It is important to point out that the more containers returned through the scheme, the more 10 cent refunds need to be paid out, therefore the greater the cost to the beverage industry.
On this basis, it is understandable that the beverage industry would prefer to have overall control of the scheme, but we believe this may not be the best performing scheme for Tasmania.
And while NSW and Queensland operate different types of schemes, they have both created around 700 new jobs, demonstrating that either governance model is equally well placed to create jobs.
Additionally, just as is the case in schemes operating in other states, Tasmanian charities and community groups will be able to be part of the scheme in a number of ways.
They can be involved by collecting containers, receiving donations or operating return points, and receiving a fee for service.
The NSW CRS has raised $13.2 million for charities and has 430 community groups as donation partners.
We want to ensure that charities and community groups have plentiful opportunities to be part of the scheme and to benefit from it.
We've engaged with other states and carefully examined all CRSs operating in Australia, even some overseas, and remain concerned that a beverage-industry-controlled scheme runs the risk of not performing well over time.
The Tasmanian government has consulted extensively on the container refund scheme design.
Additionally, we have established an Expert Reference Group and appointed a Ministerial Advisory Group who have both provided valuable input into the scheme design.
During the period of public consultation earlier this year, we received 3334 survey responses. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with 98 per cent of survey respondents supportive of a scheme in Tasmania.
The Local Government Association of Tasmania, Charitable Recycling Australia, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Australia, Australian Council of Recycling, Boomerang Alliance, Clean Up Australia Day, and other organisations have also come out in support of the government's split responsibility model scheme.
Labor's plan to refer it to an inquiry is disappointing and will either delay the roll-out of a scheme unnecessarily or kill the bill entirely.
Tasmanians want a container refund scheme that is fit for purpose for this state, they want a scheme that is proven to work and they want a scheme that helps the community and the Tasmanian government wants to deliver that scheme to the Tasmanian community on time in 2022.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.