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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 641 ..

a national regulatory framework under the National Environment Protection Measure 2011 to outline how governments and businesses across Australia share the responsibility for managing the environmental impacts of packaging.

The facilitation by APCO of Australia’s 2025 national packaging targets is of particular significance. These targets include 100 per cent re-usable, recyclable or compostable packing; 70 per cent of plastic packaging being recycled or composted; 50 per cent of average recycled content included in packaging; and the phase-out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging.

The reduction of plastic cannot be done overnight; it will take methodical planning and implementation to get the balance right between protecting the environment and finding more eco-friendly products to take their place. Public consultation was taken on phasing out single-use plastic in 2019, and I am pleased to hear that the engagement report received high levels of involvement. However, I know from personal interaction with a range of businesses that many very small businesses were not consulted.

I appreciate that a discussion paper and using peak business bodies may be an easy and convenient way for the government to collect and report data, but there could have been more outreach to small and micro businesses during this process. Many of these microbusinesses are not members of a peak business organisation. When I spoke to many Tuggeranong food businesses especially, none of them had heard about a phasing out of plastics from government sources. If they had heard about it at all, it was through the media and not because they had been asked about how this change would affect their operations. I would like the government to better seek out the advice and opinions of those the legislation will affect before bringing it to the chamber for debate.

Despite the lack of consultation, I congratulate businesses on their readiness and efforts already to phase out single-use plastics from their operations. Many of these businesses told me they strongly support the reduction or phasing out of single-use plastics, but they noted that some of the alternative products are more expensive. In one coffee shop the owner showed me the paperwork to show that the recyclable products are eight per cent more expensive than the non-recyclable products. Of course, this cost will be borne by the business and passed on to customers. So it is a trade-off between everyone’s desire to be environmentally friendly and having to pay for that as well.

But I reiterate that those that had made the switch were absolutely in favour of the phase-out of single-use products. They had already made the switch to recyclable products and were really keen to show me the recyclable products they are using now. They also shared with me the positive feedback they received from many of their customers pleased to see them involved in the phasing out of single-use products. It was great to see so many Tuggeranong business owners adapting to the changing desires of their consumers. We certainly have many wonderful small family businesses in Tuggeranong.

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