Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3764 ..
MS MacDONALD (continuing):
It is possible to achieve no waste through a combination of recycling and reprocessing technologies, with the assistance of pricing incentives and regulation to ensure resources are directed appropriately. It is absolutely vital, however, that everyone in the community plays an active part in the wise re-use of our resources.
I'm glad to tell you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and also Ms Dundas, that this government is committed to ensuring the implementation of the no waste 2010 strategy. We will continue the important environmental strategies and do our best to ensure that the community commitment to landfill reduction is reinvigorated.
MR SMYTH (5.09): Mr Deputy Speaker, no waste by 2010 is a matter of will-you actually have to have the will to do it and you actually have to make decisions to make it happen. When the previous government put this train on the tracks and set it off on its path, we had the will to make a difference and that is why we led environmental reform in this country for about seven years.
The flagship of what we were about and what we wanted to achieve was the no waste by 2010 target. I think the verification of that is the way in which Canberrans adopted the art of recycling, using their split bins, and made concrete efforts to do the right thing. What we have to do as an Assembly, and what the government has to do, is continue to give Canberrans the opportunity to participate.
You will recall that when the Asian meltdown occurred in the late 1990s there was talk that we would be dumping straight into landfill some of the cardboard we had collected through the recycling process, and Canberrans were rightly outraged that that might happen. Why? Because they had made a commitment. It was great that we didn't have to do this, as the contracts that we had negotiated with the buyers allowed us to continue to send our product to market instead of to landfill. The residents of Canberra endorsed and wanted to be part of this arrangement and they wanted this sort of thing to make a difference.
The initial results were very pleasing. In 1993/94 only 22 per cent of material was recovered before it went to landfill. By 1999/2000 66 per cent was being diverted from the waste stream. That is a threefold increase. Canberrans have done the right thing. We gave them the opportunity to participate, and they took that opportunity.
The next step is based on a couple of serious decisions, and those decisions fundamentally but not entirely revolve around the business sector. This is where the government must be proactive. They must engage with the business sector and say, "Yours is now the element of the waste stream that is causing us the most grief. You and your business practices are causing the maximum amount of material that could be recycled to go to landfill." We are going to have to come up with some innovative ways to change that. We are also going to have to continue to be watchful that we do not slip down as well in the domestic sector. That is a matter of will, and it is the challenge that faces the government.
It is a pleasure to note that Ms Dundas has brought this matter to the attention of the Assembly. Perhaps there needs to be a "buy recycled" commitment from the government whereby, if there is a recycled product, the government can buy it and only it. Perhaps we need to come up with some sort of certification for businesses that commit to