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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 18 September 2018) . . Page.. 3714 ..


We can address this significant problem at a number of levels, whether it is individually, collectively or through the role of governments. There is definitely a role for government to play in this process of reducing the amount of plastic pollution on this planet.

The plastic bag ban is a good example of that. Ms Le Couteur spoke about it briefly before, and Ms Lee indicated her scepticism towards it, but the ACT ban on single-use plastic shopping bags is a good example of what can be done. It was introduced in November 2011 as a result of the parliamentary agreement for that term between the Greens and the Labor Party, and it was a great first step in reducing plastic waste in the territory.

The 2014 review of the ban found that it had reduced plastic bag waste to landfill by about one-third and reduced the number of lightweight plastic bags found as litter in streets and waterways in the ACT. We now see other states and territories implementing similar bans and also national supermarket chains having to take it on because some jurisdictions have failed to act. They have simply failed to have the courage to deal with this very practical way of reducing plastic waste. That in itself has been an interesting process to watch as they have grappled to deal with public opinion, but I think that at the end of the day it is a really poor reflection on those governments that have failed to take that step and that legislative action.

I will be releasing later this week the review that I commissioned from the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment. I asked the office to do this independent review to ensure that the ban was working as well as possible. It is worthwhile doing these things from time to time.

I note the commentary, Madam Assistant Speaker, that you offered on the performance of the commissioner for the environment in getting this work done, but the commissioner has produced, I think, a very valuable report that the community will find interesting. She did take longer than anticipated, and she was very explicit and public in saying that she had sought more time because the research took them longer than they anticipated. Whilst that may have been a cause of consternation for you, I think it is actually quite okay. The commissioner was very up-front about the fact that she simply needed more time to do the work, and I think it has resulted in a very good report, which members can form their own views on later in the week.

When it comes to actions the government has taken aside from the plastic bag ban, I was pleased, as the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, to launch the straws suck campaign, which Mr Steel referred to. The campaign aims to encourage businesses and the community to avoid unnecessary plastic waste by rethinking their need for single-use plastic straws. It is a campaign that is being delivered by Actsmart in the ACT government. It asks local businesses to take a pledge to reduce the number of single-use straws being used. I am pleased to report that almost 30 businesses have already signed up to the campaign. Community members can support this campaign by saying no to plastic straws when offered one and asking their local cafe or pub to consider signing the pledge. Individuals can also sign up to this pledge as part of the Actsmart online carbon challenge.


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