Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 648 ..
In addition to supporting the bill, we encourage those people in government who have the power to do so to continue these routes of meaningful engagement and provide solutions to our community for the betterment of the territory, Australia and the global environmental movement. The Greens support the Plastic Reduction Bill.
MS ORR (Yerrabi) (5.10): Since being elected to this Assembly, I have spoken numerous times about the need to reduce plastic waste in the ACT. This is an issue not only of local importance but of global importance. Plastic waste from the territory can make it to the ocean via our waterways, and it is clearly evident in our own lakes and ponds.
I was pleased to move a motion on the re-usable cup scheme and to see this initiative get off the ground during the last Assembly. Additionally, it was great to have a commitment to organise a plastic-free government event after another of my private member motions passed in the last term. It was unfortunate that, due to the pandemic, that commitment has not yet been implemented, but I hope to see something in the future.
I rise today to speak in support of the Plastic Reduction Bill 2020. It is great to see such legislation before this place. The first stage of implementation will include single-use plastic items more easily phased out or replaced with an organic alternative. 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—and from 1 July 2021 we will.
The second group of single-use plastic products will be phased out a year later. From 1 July 2022, single-use plastic straws, fruit and vegetable barrier bags and all products made from degradable plastic will be banned. I would like to note that throughout these changes I have supported the government in liaison and consultation around accessibility issues with the disability community, particularly in relation to single-use straws. I would like to thank the minister for his commitment to working through those issues.
Degradable plastic is a bit of a misnomer; all it does is break down into microplastics more quickly than other plastics, and it goes out of sight and out of mind more quickly. It is just as damaging to the environment. There is strong community support for the phase-out of both of these groups of products.
Reducing plastic in our environment is one of the great environmental causes of our generation. As it stands, a million seabirds die from getting trapped in, or consuming, plastic pollution every year. At least 100,000 marine mammals die from the same pollution every year. Over a third of all fish caught for human consumption are found to have plastic in their stomachs. I could go on and on.
Humans began producing and using plastics on an industrial scale around the start of the Second World War. This new, cheaply produced product with 1,000 uses was seen as a utopian tool for the improvement of human life. While this perception of plastics lasted for a while, it did not last forever.