Page 5058 - Week 13 - Thursday, 29 November 2018

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The ACT government’s highly successful Actsmart business recycling program continues to support ACT businesses by providing free advice, education and signage to assist with reducing and avoiding waste and increasing recycling. Over a thousand businesses participate in the program. The Actsmart public event program also assists event organisers managing sustainable events through equipment, advice and signage, assisting over 200 events last year. The program works with stakeholders to provide advice on purchasing sustainable products to reduce the impact of events on the environment.

Reducing the use of single-use plastic is not confined to plastic shopping bags; we must consider the broad plastic problem. The ACT government’s response to the review into the ACT’s plastic bag ban is still being developed and is an opportunity for us to chart a new path for the territory. It requires careful consideration to identify opportunities for and synergies between other related policies and legislation. I look forwarding to leading the government response to the review and reporting to the Assembly on progress in the future. I present a copy of the statement:

Plastic waste reduction—Ministerial statement, 29 November 2018.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MS LEE (Kurrajong) (10.50): I thank the minister for the statement today. It is a timely response, although perhaps not when you consider it is responding to an Assembly resolution of 22 August and it does not actually say anything we do not already know. But I suppose Christmas breaks tend to focus one’s mind on clearing the desk.

The statement restates a number of important points. Canberrans are strongly focused on recycling and, by and large, as a territory we do a relatively good job, with an average annual level of one million tonnes of waste, of which 70 per cent is recycled. Of course, that means 30 per cent is still not being managed appropriately, and that is growing in volume. The recent community consultations and conversations about waste to energy options are difficult discussions for some, but given that we have 300,000 tonnes of waste each year we cannot afford to ignore the problem, irrespective of how good we think we are at recycling.

The minister points out—and it is something I have also emphasised in estimates, annual reports hearings and motions debates—that the overall volume of plastic use in the ACT is growing despite our best efforts. The recent plastic straw ban, from my observations, has been well received by businesses and it is no longer common to see drinks offered with plastic straws or to see plastic straw dispensers on counters. We should, of course, be mindful that our good intentions in upping our recycling credentials do not unduly impact on the needs of Canberrans living with a disability or those who have needs that require, in certain circumstances, access to single-use plastic straws. But as this issue has been discussed in this chamber numerous times I trust the minister will continue to keep this in mind.

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