Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 18 September 2018) . . Page.. 3707 ..
use less single-use plastic or to use recyclable, compostable alternatives. Why on earth are there plastic-wrapped bananas in supermarkets? What do you think a banana has on the outside of it?
This morning while I was working on this, I saw someone walk past my office with a plastic-wrapped carton full of plastic bottles, single-use plastic water bottles. At the Legislative Assembly we should be leading the change. Canberra has totally drinkable water. The Legislative Assembly has an abundance of taps and also an abundance of cups and glasses. The kids in the Actsmart schools program would be ashamed of what the grown-ups in Canberra are doing.
We are not doing the right thing. We need to support, promote and reward businesses that are doing the right thing. For instance, the CMAG cafe, which we have all frequented across the square, have a mug library for people who have not brought their keep cups. They have responded to community demands; we should too.
I am not calling for an immediate complete ban on plastic in the ACT. There are many essential single-use plastic items, in particular in our health system, which, unfortunately, has not done a lot of work on this issue. There are vials, syringes, sample bags, disposable gloves, et cetera. These need to be looked at. How do we get better responses to those? They are part of infection control and avoiding cross-contamination. And yes, there are people living with disabilities who do need flexible, durable plastic straws in order to drink. But these are things that can be phased out. It may take time, but that time only starts when we start to do it.
We need to be part of the worldwide revolution, which will, I am confident, phase single-use plastics out. But we have to start now. We have to support businesses that can readily supply alternatives in non-essential single-use plastics and packaging. We should support innovation via grants and funding for the development of potential replacements with regard to essential single-use plastic items. We should develop guidelines, specific elimination targets and regulations which responsibly manage the transition. There needs to be a focus on education. I think many people are confused about what is and is not recyclable or compostable. I note that this was an area—I think No 3—in the better suburbs lists that we talked about earlier. We need to support social enterprises; we need to improve our recycling system.
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for City Services, Minister for Community Services and Facilities, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Roads) (3.52): I thank Ms Le Couteur for bringing this matter of public importance before us today in the Assembly. I believe we all have a role to play in reducing single-use plastic in the ACT, and especially the ACT government.
Single-use plastic is everywhere. It is in our straws, it surrounds our food and other products, and it feels like it is practically unavoidable. Programs like the War on Waste and The Blue Planet have made the scourge of single-use plastic impossible to ignore. Globally, an over-reliance on single-use plastic, a shortfall in recycling options, failure to price the externalities of plastic and a lack of incentives to support recycling have created a perfect storm, meaning that we are producing single-use plastics at unprecedented rates.