Page 4544 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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day. So how much water would we save by banning their installation? Even if we assume that, in the unlikely situation that 50 per cent of households in Canberra had one of these units installed—50 per cent—overall ACT water consumption would increase by approximately 150 megalitres of water per year, which is less than one per cent of total consumption in a year.

In reality, now only about six per cent of households have these units. In consequence, you can see that their effect on future and current water consumption in the ACT is insignificant—less than one per cent. It would only be one per cent if 50 per cent of all households in the ACT had one of these units. Only six per cent have these units, so the figure is minuscule.

Advice provided to the Planning and Land Authority from ActewAGL, which operates the lower Molonglo water quality control centre, indicates that, even with a one per cent increase in flows—that is assuming that 50 per cent of all households in the ACT had one of these units, which they do not—together with the added organic waste, there would not be any significant adverse effect on the treatment process. Contrary to opposition claims during the debate at the time the ban was introduced last year, food scraps that enter the sewerage system do not ultimately end up in the river system.

The lower Molonglo treatment facility is a tertiary treatment plant, which produces high quality effluent. Sewage is treated to a high standard; all the solids are removed and these are ultimately turned into fertiliser. The effluent that enters the river system does not contain solid waste or nutrient components, and certainly no kitchen food scraps. In fact, the lower Molonglo treatment plant relies on a component of solid organic matter in order for the biological treatment process to be effective. The organic matter that is removed is converted to fertiliser and soil conditioner and is in line with the ACT NOWaste strategy.

So there are your two arguments. Firstly, water use is minimal. Even at 50 per cent of all households having one of these units—and we do not have that level of take-up—consumption is less than one per cent of total consumption every year. Only six per cent of households have these insinkerators, so consumption is significantly less than one per cent of total consumption every year. Secondly, any organic waste that goes through the treatment system ends up as fertiliser anyway. So it is not like the waste is not being recycled; it is. So on those two grounds how can you justify this ban?

The use of in-sink waste disposal units on those grounds is an option for reducing green waste going into landfill. Composting and worm farming are the preferred means of reducing landfill from kitchen waste, and that is consistent with the government’s NOWaste strategy. But they are not always practical and they are certainly not always practical in apartments and townhouses. Disposal units provide an acceptable alternative means because that waste is still recycled. It ends up in the treatment plant, it is turned into fertiliser and it is recycled. The waste is reused rather than occupying landfill.

The government recognises the benefits of urban consolidation in reducing pressures on our transport systems and assisting us in creating a more sustainable city. We support the choice in housing that comes from that and we recognise that sink waste disposal units provide an option for those people who simply do not want to bin their green waste. Their green waste can be put into the sewerage system and it can be recycled as

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