Page 3715 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 18 September 2018

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It may seem like saying no to plastic straws is a small act but the impacts do really add up. An estimated 10 million plastic straws are used in Australia every single day: not every year; every single day. This is an extraordinary figure. Each of these straws takes up to 200 years to degrade in the environment and they never biodegrade.

Plastic straws are in the top 10 most littered items globally. A plastic straw used today will outlive your children’s children’s children. The thing with a plastic straw is that we use it for a few minutes, maybe half an hour at the most, but it will result in very long-lived plastic waste in our environment. Most of us have perfectly good lips from which we can consume that drink ourselves.

As Mr Steel touched on in his remarks, there are some people who, for perhaps a medical reason or whatever, might need to use a straw. We have a duty there to make sure alternatives are available, whether it is a bamboo straw or a stainless steel one; I have met an increasing number of people, women particularly because they do not like to mess up their lipstick, who will carry around a stainless steel drinking straw in their handbag, or even a couple of them. I have one friend who carries a couple because she often goes drinking. When she goes out for a drink, she will go with a friend, and she brings one for her girlfriend as well. So there are really practical options there and it is great to see some community members taking those initiatives.

I would particularly like to thank those businesses who have signed up to the campaign. They have shown real leadership and responsibility. They have demonstrated that business can be very innovative, and it has not added to their bottom line in any particular way. Even where it has produced a bit of a cost, the cost has been very minimal and is part of being a good corporate citizen. I particularly acknowledge BentSpoke in Braddon, who launched the campaign with us and, as part of their commitment, went out and ordered a whole bunch of stainless steel straws and were very good in talking to other businesses about how easy it was for their business to make that change.

Over the years in successive parliamentary agreements between the Greens and the ALP we have been able to take a number of steps to reduce plastic waste. We have spoken about the ban on plastic bags. The container deposit scheme has been one that I hope will have an impact over time in reducing the amount of plastic waste in the environment.

One that is perhaps less obvious as a plastic reduction measure is the installation of new drinking fountains in town centres and other areas. A lot of people see this as perhaps just a way of providing free drinking water in convenient locations and of encouraging healthy lifestyles. Whilst it does both of those things, it is also about saying to people, “You can carry around a reusable bottle for consuming water and be able to refill it as you go, rather than having to go and buy plastic bottles of water at the shops because you are out and about and it is hot and you want a drink”, those sorts of things.

These are initiatives that I think have been very effective. There are a number of other discussions going on. There is a national discussion going on as well. There was a

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