YOU would think the last thing we need is another environmental tax but the great green beast is never satisfied.
The latest feel-good eco-furphy to be foisted on us in the cause of saving the planet is a proposed 10-cent slug on all glass and plastic drinks containers, described as a recycling “deposit”.
The Greens have introduced legislation into federal parliament to try to force states to impose the container tax, which the Australian Food and Grocery Council estimates will add $1.8 billion a year to the price of milk, juice, soft drink and beer. It would cost average families an extra $300 a year or $4 more for a case of beer.
At first glance it might seem an attractive proposition, despite the cost. After all, those people who want their money back need only take their bottles and cans to a recycling station, while enterprising people can collect discarded containers and exchange them for cash.
But not so fast, says economist Jeff Bennett, professor of environmental management at the Australian National University, whose latest book, Little Green Lies, demolishes the 12 core beliefs of the environmental movement.
In a talk at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney last week, he said recycling, of beverage containers, paper and so on, is not a costless activity, because it involves the use of scarce resources.
For instance, collecting bottles and cans from remote communities in the Northern Territory, where container deposit legislation was introduced in January, uses a lot of fuel for the trucks carting them. Then there are the “chemicals used in the processing operation, the storage facilities used to house the stock of collected cans”.
Recycling just “involves the substitution of one set of scarce resources for another”, says Bennett.
Surprise, surprise: costs per bottle in the NT have reportedly risen as much as 20 cents since the legislation was introduced.
The war against plastic bags is similarly absurd.