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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2019 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 August 2019) . . Page.. 2616 ..

As I think I have said in this place before, I acknowledge that straws make up a small percentage of the plastic waste problem. However, this campaign opens the opportunity for a conversation with people about considering single-use plastics. It is one that is easy to replace and one that, for most people, is not a necessary item. I think this campaign not only has a practical impact but a deeper impact on people thinking whether they need single-use plastics and how they might take steps to avoid using them.

I am encouraged by the start of this campaign. I encourage more businesses to sign up and, for people who are still going to businesses using plastic straws, have that conversation with them and encourage them to get in contact with Actsmart who can help businesses go through the process of finding alternatives.

MR GUPTA: Minister, what wider sustainability initiatives have recently been recognised?

MR RATTENBURY: Welcome to the Assembly, Mr Gupta, and thank you for my first question from you since you came here.

This is an opportunity to tell the Assembly about some particularly good work that has been happening at the Canberra Hospital. The Canberra Hospital is a recent accreditation under the Actsmart business recycling program. Under the program, the hospital has made great strides. It has used monthly staff newsletters, the intranet, desktop wallpaper and digital screens to promote sustainability messages.

The hospital has implemented a “bring your own cup” campaign which has reduced the 42,000 disposable coffee cups previously used each year at the hospital. It introduced the organics “feed me” machine back in December 2017. Microorganisms break down the food into a fine liquid which is able to go down the sewer and is processed at the Icon Water treatment plant. In its first year of use, the hospital diverted over 28 tonnes of food waste from landfill using the system.

Also, in the past year the waste streams that have been diverted from landfill have significantly increased, including co-mingled recycling, up by 29 per cent; paper and cardboard recycling, up by nearly 10 per cent; and organic waste diversion, up by a massive 81 per cent.

So we have seen a significant effort at the Canberra Hospital. The hospital is now thinking about the steps it can take to further reduce single-use plastics in all areas of the hospital. Anybody who has spent any time in the health system knows that it is an area primed for the use of single-use plastics and disposable products. It is great to see our staff having a think about how they can reduce the environmental footprint of the hospital. I thank them for their creativity and commitment in that space.

Mr Barr: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.

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