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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3399 ..


I also acknowledge, as others have, the community effectiveness and knowledge-building from the ABC’s program War on Waste. It has highlighted in sometimes shocking visual terms exactly how much waste we generate in our country. It has done an enormous amount to increase community awareness and community activism. People are taking action right across the country on the basis of that. It is a highly engaging and effective way that our public broadcaster is both informing our community and encouraging us all to do better.

I welcome today’s opportunity to outline the actions that the government is taking to reduce single-use plastic and reducing waste. There are challenges, as there are in every other state and territory across our nation, and there is more to do. But we are totally committed to actively exploring these opportunities to improve our policies, our regulation and our education and community awareness to achieve the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.

Ultimately, this will contribute to significantly improved environmental outcomes. We look forward to keeping this Assembly updated on this important work, and I thank Ms Orr again, for this terrific motion today.

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (11.20): I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion although, like so many that come from the government backbench, I am not sure that it is not simply putting up a motion for the sake of it. In this instance, perhaps, this is little more than virtue signalling. I recall that earlier in the month Ms Orr was calling on her own government to report on something that they should have already reported on, and I see we are doing that here again today. I guess that when you think you have a winning formula you stick to it.

The ACT banned plastic bags on 1 November 2011. We were the second jurisdiction, after South Australia, to do so. Since then, the Northern Territory and Tasmania have also banned single-use plastic shopping bags. In recent months we have seen comments from other jurisdictions talking about such a move, as well as seeing major retailers, Coles and Woolworths, making what we can term a half-hearted attempt at doing so. Aldi has always sold only the supermarket plastic and polypropylene bags.

As we know, the ban applies to all retailers in the ACT, and it affects single-use, lightweight, polyethylene polymer plastic bags, the thin plastic bags with handles that were typically supplied at supermarket checkouts, the same ones that everyone used as bin liners, to store leftover food in or to pack a lunch in. They were, in reality, anything but a single-use plastic bag.

The ACT’s plastic bag ban was reviewed in 2012 and 2014, including through community surveys. Interestingly, while a majority of Canberrans in the 2014 survey supported the ban, an article written by Kirsten Lawson in the Canberra Times in June that year questioned the real benefits of it. The article said that in the six months in the lead-up to the ban in November 2011, about 26 million lightweight plastic bags were distributed in Canberra. Two years later, in the six months to November 2013, people bought about four million boutique bags, the shop-branded, heavy plastic bags. By weight, the reduction in plastic bag use was a little less dramatic, with 182 tonnes of


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