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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 643 ..

As the Greens spokesperson on waste and the circular economy, I look forward to working with the community, business and industry to try and bring out more innovative solutions to replace our plastics and to set up really good recycling chains for all the substitutes.

While this bill focuses on plastic, I also want to celebrate the government’s planned introduction of food and organic recycling. This system will recover household food scraps and organic waste, and I am delighted to see that it is planned to roll out in 2023. A lot of the items we substitute for plastic will be biodegradable, like cornstarch items, and we need to make sure that they can be recovered in our food and organics recycling system once that is up and running.

Any new recycling initiative is a good thing. I was pleased to read CSIRO’s recent circular economy road map that made this very point. I come from the recycling sector; I have worked with a lot of recycling companies and have run one. We have long understood that recycling is a huge boon to our economy. Australian recycling creates nine jobs for every 10,000 tonnes of waste. That is three times as many jobs as landfill creates. As we build our circular economy and as we gain ground, we will create more green jobs while saving our precious natural resources. The Greens are pleased to support the Plastic Reduction Bill 2020.

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (4.54): I am pleased to stand here today in support of Minister Steel and the Plastic Reduction Bill. It is absolutely imperative that we act to reduce plastic consumption, which has exploded since the 1950s. Plastic certainly has many benefits: it is strong, adaptable, stable, lightweight and low cost. But it is also insidious and creates serious problems. It persists in our environment, it is made from non-renewable resources and the true cost is borne by our environment, waste management and health sectors. Plastic is hard to avoid, particularly single-use plastic. Plastic also litters our otherwise pristine, beautiful bush capital landscape and waterways. Single-use plastics often end up in our landfills, as they cannot be economically recycled. By definition, these items are not designed or intended to be re-used.

As Minister Steel said, we know that regulating to reduce plastic works. Thanks to our single-use plastic shopping bag ban, between 2011 and 2018 we reduced our plastic bag use by 1,132 tonnes. In 2017-18 alone, we reduced our use by 199 tonnes. This is equivalent to around 55 million plastic bags. The bill both absorbs and builds on the ACT’s bag ban. With the evidence in front of us, imagine how much good we can do when we phase out more single-use plastic items.

The first tranches start with items that we are confident can either be phased out or replaced with more sustainable non-plastic alternatives. They are also items that over 90 per cent of Canberrans want us to take action on. Single-use plastic stirrers, cutlery and expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers are things that we can immediately go without. Polystyrene in particular is a relic of the past. We are ready to leave this malicious material behind; from 1 July 2021, we will.

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