Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3396 ..
waste, which shows more work still needs to be done to encourage good behaviour amongst some of Australia’s largest plastic polluters.
Fortunately, jurisdictions like the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania already have regulations in place to limit the prevalence of single-use plastic bags. Indeed, we in Canberra have been coping with bringing our own bags to the shops for almost seven years now. To see Coles backflip on their commitment to reducing plastic waste then backflip again was both confusing and disappointing.
The facts are clear: banning single-use plastic bags works. Whilst a new review of the ACT plastic ban will be taking place soon, according to the most recent review in 2014, plastic bag waste was cut from 266 tonnes before the ban to 171 tonnes, an approximate alleged 36 per cent reduction, as Minister Rattenbury has mentioned.
It is great that this motion calls for an update on the program so the ACT government can continue to monitor plastic use in Canberra and look at further ways we can reduce their use. Indeed, more can be done. Recently momentum has grown to get rid of single-use plastic straws through the straw no more campaign and others around the country. This is something the ACT government has been supporting, and we are not alone. As reported by the ABC, Scotland has announced plans to phase out plastic straws. Even companies like McDonalds are currently exploring the phase-out of plastic straws over the next few years, which would certainly be a welcome development if it occurs.
I thank Ms Orr for bringing this motion forward. Our government wants to make our community cleaner. Waste avoidance—reducing the need to produce waste in the first place—is the easiest way to minimise the waste we produce as a community. The ACT government has already achieved many successes in reducing waste through our green bins program, the recently introduced container deposit scheme, and by being one of Australia’s first jurisdictions to ban single-use plastic bags, something that did not cause the sky to fall in.
There is more to be done. As outlined in the waste management strategy new ideas can be introduced to continue to reduce waste and make our city even more environmentally friendly. Labor is always committed to the values of sustainability. Reducing plastic waste continues to enhance the ACT’s reputation as a clean city. We should continue to be working to make progress with a goal of becoming a territory that generates much less waste, that improves the recovery of our resources, that provides a clean environment and that works towards becoming carbon neutral. These are all goals the ACT government can achieve. I thank Ms Orr for bringing this motion forward today.
MS FITZHARRIS (Yerrabi—Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Minister for Transport and City Services and Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research) (11.12): I also thank Ms Orr very much for bringing this important motion forward. I know how passionate and knowledgeable she is about this with her personal dedication through plastic-free July and advocacy right across the Assembly. I can attest to many instances of our colleagues reducing their use of plastic.