Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3564 ..
I was happy to see that this budget amended reporting in line with last estimates recommendations in terms of waste and recycling. It has made it a lot easier to understand what is going on with our recycling rates. I am also pleased that the budget is starting the trial of FOGO in my electorate of Ginninderra. I am delighted to be one of the recipients of the little caddy. We are really enjoying testing that out in our house. This recycling program is going to recover food and organic waste that is currently going to landfill.
The trial in Belconnen, Bruce, Cook and Macquarie will be an excellent opportunity for us to see what works and what does not, as we lead in to the full FOGO system to deliver right across Canberra. It is a collection trial rather than a processing trial, and we are still working out what our permanent FOGO processing facility will be. I was happy to contribute to a roundtable with local organic waste processors and I am keen to do some further work on that facility to make sure we get a good solution in place.
Education is extremely important in all of this to make sure that we have low contamination rates. I am pleased to see Minister Steel has a fine appreciation for the need to properly fund and resource this. If we do it properly, the government will reduce our methane emissions from landfill and produce a rich, valuable compost product that we can use in our soils. But if we do not get it right, we are going to run the risk that we have seen in other councils where we end up with a contaminated product.
I am happy to see increased funding to upgrade our ageing materials recycling facility. All of Canberra’s household recycling goes to that facility and it also processes a lot of our commercial waste. But there are a lot of standard items that cannot be processed there; it is simply too old. I am hoping the upgrades will mean we can recover most of our standard waste and that we can drive our recycling rate beyond the current plateau of around 75 per cent. We need to make sure that our new food and organic waste facility, our FOGO facility, and our materials recovery facility, the MRF, are working together so that they recover all of our standard packaging and waste.
This budget gives priority to deliver on government policy to phase out certain single-use plastics. This has been longstanding Greens policy, and it is good to see it taking effect. As we continue that phase-out, we need to make sure that any of the new substitutes can be recycled in the FOGO facility or the MRF. If those substitutes cannot be recycled there, we will have to work at the national level with industry and federal waste policy to stop designing, producing and selling those packaging substitutes. That is a much harder job and it is going to be a lot easier if we can get a local solution here.
I was glad to see our continuing transition to zero emissions government vehicles. I have called for that a few times in the Assembly and I was happy to hear Minister Rattenbury talk about it in the last sittings. I cannot wait to see the clever solutions we will be rolling out for our fleet. I am also happy to see the Age Friendly Suburbs Program delivered in Scullin and in other suburbs across Canberra. I wonder whether this initiative might be expanded to other areas in Belconnen and the rest of Canberra in future years.