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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 642 ..

The Canberra Liberals will be supporting the Plastic Reduction Bill. As a Liberal, I firmly believe every individual can and should do their part to help protect our environment. Similarly, we want to preserve and protect our environment from human-made pollutants. It is not up to one country, one government or one person to solve all of our environmental problems; it is up to all of us as individuals to do our part to help conserve and protect the environment we are privileged to call home. I am pleased to support this first tranche of the Plastic Reduction Bill, and I look forward to seeing the revised explanatory statement from the minister.

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (4.49): The Greens are pleased to support this bill. When China brought in its ban on receiving waste from other countries in early 2018 it was a wake-up call for Australia and many other countries that sending our waste offshore is not a good long-term solution. Humanity cannot afford the out of sight, out of mind attitude to waste. China’s 2018 national sword policy is a blessing in disguise for the ACT and for Australia. It will drive recycling and it will help make us take responsibility for our own waste.

This bill is an important step towards achieving a circular economy. This is vital if we want to protect our planet for current and future generations. But we still have a long way to go. For a decade ACT resource recovery has plateaued. I am pleased that this bill takes some necessary steps to tackle the issue of waste at its source—the initial creation of products that are used for a few minutes or a few seconds and are then discarded. In doing this, the bill follows the waste hierarchy of reduce, re-use, recycle and recover, with disposal as the last resort.

The reduce phase of this hierarchy has been something many governments have been reluctant to address. With plastic pollution persisting in our environment for hundreds or thousands of years, this needs to change. We are starting that change. South Australia’s similar ban on single-use plastic products took effect recently, and the ACT now joins a national and global movement, with many countries in the European Union also banning plastics. And with additional mechanisms like the Australian National Packaging Covenant targets and the sustainable packaging initiatives that are being developed, the ACT is part of a general plastics reduction and recycling movement.

We will keep working constructively at all levels, learning from and contributing to best practice. It is encouraging to note that the bill establishes a framework that allows more products to be added to the provisions in the future. I am also pleased to see that we are streamlining plastic regulation by absorbing the existing plastic shopping bag ban.

Research has shown that if waste reduction and our sorting systems are seen to be too complicated or too inconvenient, they end up sapping consumer confidence. Levels of compliance gradually fall away and people try to circumvent the regulations. That is why we need to make sure that the systems we set up after this legislation is in place are really well designed, accessible to everybody and easy to use. They need to show results that ordinary people can see.

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