Page 3379 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 20 August 2008

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A balance also needs to be reached between the costs and the benefits of recycling to ensure that the community is getting good value for money from their investment in its waste services and programs that the government is delivering. It is within this environment that the government requested TAMS to undertake a review of the no waste strategy and targets and to report back to government in making recommendations on future sustainable waste management approaches for the ACT.

It would also be inappropriate to make any formal statements to support specific recommendations in the ACT commissioner for the environment’s State of the environment report relating to waste, as proposed in the motion by Dr Foskey, until the report has been considered in its entirety and until the government has considered the next stage of its waste management strategy.

What I can say at this time is that the government remains committed to reducing waste to landfill and making progress towards sustainable waste management practices. The government has been progressively implementing policies, strategies and programs on waste minimisation and resource recovery that have helped maintain the ACT’s national leadership position. I will just give a couple of examples.

The ACT’s green garden waste recycling rate is currently the best in the country with about 95 per cent of green waste recovered and recycled into garden products through the free drop-off facilities at Mugga Lane and Macgregor. Around 200,000 tonnes of green waste is recycled each year. The Mugga Lane resource recovery contract established last year has changed the focus of operations from waste disposal to resource recovery. The no waste awards continue to showcase examples of excellence in the community—for example, Charity Computers, which is an organisation that is extending the life of computers through reuse and providing IT training and job placements in the process.

The sustainable schools program is a model other jurisdictions are looking to follow. As I have said, this week the government has established facilities at the Mitchell and Mugga resource management centres for the safe collection and recycling of fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lights.

While we have achieved much, it is recognised that there are still some real opportunities to make further gains in resource recovery and recycling. There are also challenges to face. For example, total waste going landfill in 2007-08 increased by a further 10,000 tonnes—five per cent over the previous year, with this trend likely to continue unless intervention measures are implemented. Business waste has been steadily increasing over the past five years and there is strong evidence that both the waste collection industry and businesses are not changing their practices and transitioning to separating standard recyclables from the landfill waste stream.

The government needs to give due consideration to the submission on the review of the no waste strategy and targets to address the challenges to be faced in moving forward and to determine the appropriate mix of policies, strategies, programs and services that are needed to position the ACT to continue to be a leader in sustainable waste management.

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