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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 24 June 2021) . . Page.. 2034 ..

commercial standard. We know that it is very confusing for people who want to know whether that product can in fact be recycled or composted. That is why we are phasing out those products from 1 July.

In the future, if we do have the ability to be able to compost those products—the government currently is planning a new in-vessel composting facility—we may need to reconsider that.

In line with the approach that has been taken in other jurisdictions, those products will be phased out because they cannot be recycled in the ACT. If they do go into our recycling stream, they contaminate it and that puts at risk all the material that has gone through to the MRF that is meant to be packaged up, bailed and sold off to be remanufactured. It is a contaminant in our waste stream at the moment. That is why we are phasing it out from 1 July, starting with the products that have been listed under the Plastic Reduction Bill expressly, with further products to come by regulation following a regulatory impact statement being provided.

MR PARTON: Given the confusion expressed by this Greens senator, is there confusion in the business community over what falls in and what falls out of biodegradable and non-recyclable products?

MR STEEL: I thank the member for his question. Yes, this is a challenge for the community in terms of making sure that people are educated about which products can be recycled and which cannot, and which are better for the environment and which are actually worse for the environment. Some of the so-called biodegradable products are just plastics that break down into microplastics that cause a huge problem for the environment and are not necessarily better than other alternatives like paper products, bamboo products or products made out of organic materials that can easily be recycled or composted.

We have a bit of an education focus in the lead-up to this phase-out. We have been engaging with hundreds of businesses at their door with that very clear message about what alternatives are appropriate. We have been clear that those compostable alternatives are not allowed as a replacement and that the so-called biodegradable products are not allowed.

MS LAWDER: Minister, is the government going to set up its own commercial composting solution for this?

MR STEEL: In mentioned in my first answer that planning is underway for a large-scale in-vessel composting facility in the ACT. The reason we are doing that is that we recognise that we need to have in place waste facilities here in the ACT that can take on both our garden waste and our food waste as well as, potentially, those products that can be composted on the basis of that commercial composting standard. That is the work that is underway now. At the election, Labor committed to build that facility. We are getting on with the work of delivering it in government. I look forward to updating the Assembly as things progress.

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