While South Australia is doing a good job of arresting the growth of waste to landfill, has introduced legislation to curb the use of single-use plastics and has one of the highest levels of solar PV and battery storage adoption in the world, complacency is the enemy of leadership.
Given South Australia’s global renewable energy leadership, Business SA encourages the State Government to better articulate a strategy to leverage economic growth in the burgeoning low emissions and circular economy sectors.
To date, this has proved elusive and a missed opportunity.
In a recent submission to the State Government, Business SA presented 13 requests for consideration in the State Budget, including a call for the introduction of a $50m Circular Economy Procurement Fund, driving the development of markets for high value-added recycled products across South Australia.
The subsequent announcement of $22m over four years for a national partnership on recycling infrastructure is obviously welcomed, as Business SA will support any measure that improves our state’s capabilities when it comes to the recycling of waste products. However, does it go far enough?
The estimated $5.7 million per year fund will invest in new technologies and equipment that reprocesses mixed plastics and improves the recovery and separation of soft plastics and increases glass re-manufacturing.
Realistically, this is slim pickings that could have formed part of a much larger plan in driving us towards a circular economy and develop new opportunities for manufacturers.
Although Business SA believes that any push towards sustainability in business will inevitably lead us towards a more circular economy in the longer term, we advocated for considerably greater direct measures than provided, as well as other initiatives that incentivise South Australians to increase their uptake of green technologies, particularly when it comes to the purchase of hydrogen and electric vehicles.
The 2021-22 State Budget failed to acknowledge the emergence of hydrogen technology in any meaningful way. A quick ‘word search’ of the word ‘hydrogen’ in the State Budget Overview document shows zero results. Another missed opportunity in this budget.
As recently as September 17, 2020, when the State Government released its Climate Change Challenges and Opportunities report, it was noted that the transport sector is the largest and a growing source of emissions, acknowledging that both hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles are likely to have roles in future transport. Obviously, that future is further away than we thought it might be.
Other jurisdictions have identified the opportunity as the Australian Capital Territory in their pledge to lead the electric vehicle revolution in Australia and take leading action on climate change, have committed to financial incentives for the purchase of Zero Emissions Vehicles.
Through announcements in the 2020/21 ACT budget, that government incentivises the use of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) for consumers and businesses, offering stamp duty exemptions and two years’ free registration for owners of new or used ZEVs. They also further committed to the construction of publicly accessible charging stations and the establishment of a fleet advisory service supporting Canberra-based businesses and community organisations to transition their fleets to ZEVs.
While we acknowledge that a territory the size of the ACT does not even begin to compare with the vast landmass of South Australia, we find it unfortunate that a jurisdiction with a quarter of the population of our own is making more ground than South Australia.
Business SA will continue to advocate to all levels of government to further support South Australia’s movement towards a lower emissions and circular economy, attracting more investment and delivering more jobs. However, like many things in business, it all starts with a clear strategy to realise the economic benefits.
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to help InDaily continue to uncover the facts.