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Valuing and cycling resources

ACT Election Priorities 2020

Improving waste management

ACT residents have high consuming lifestyles. Our waste is a resource, yet until we successfully manage the waste we generate, it will continue to have significant impacts on wildlife, the environment and human health. Viewing our waste as a resource means we should adopt practices which promote a circular economy, and expand infrastructure that supports responsible waste and resource management.

01. Establish a Ministerial Waste Advisory Council to provide community and industry perspectives on ACT Government waste policy and guide a review of the ACT Waste Management Strategy.

02. Improve collection and accessibility of data on waste management in the ACT, including on waste moving in and out of the ACT.

03. Establish technologies and practices to ensure that material collected in the landfill bin undergoes processing to extract all recoverable resources prior to disposal in landfill.

04. Ensure all ACT government agencies implement procurement policies by 2022 that require suppliers to have a waste avoidance and minimisation plan.

05. Review regulatory and legal obstacles for community-based buy-nothing, swap, share, co-operative initiatives.

06. Establish a Community Circular Economy Grants program to facilitate community borrowing and sharing projects such as tool and/or equipment libraries.

07. Set mandatory waste separation standards for commercial and building waste.

08. Provide easy-to-use recycling bins in all public places, including town centres, shopping centres, recreation and sports facilities, and festivals and public events.

09. Work with states and resource recovery companies to develop recycling solutions for materials that currently cannot be recycled in the ACT (e.g. soft plastics, polystyrene, nappies, rubber, textiles).

10. Advocate nationally for the implementation of extended producer responsibility (EPR) to reduce the amount of material that enters the ACT and becomes waste.

Reducing the use of plastic in Canberra

While plastic is a uniquely malleable, cheap, adaptive and variable product, use of plastic contributes to pollution in waterways and landscapes, and poses threats to wildlife, especially through micro-plastic particles that are readily absorbed by plants and animals, and passed down through the food chain. In addition, manufacturing plastic requires petroleum products and releases significant greenhouse emissions. No matter how well plastic can be recycled, the focus must be on avoiding its use in the first place.

01. Phase-out by 2023 single-use plastic and polystyrene products that are packaged and/or distributed in the ACT.

02. Require large retail outlets to install water bubblers; and stop the sale and use of bottled water in government facilities and public events.

03. Establish a takeaway food container scheme similar to the “Green Caffeen” returnable coffee cup scheme.

04. Expand the collection of soft plastics and work with processors to scale up recycling.

Kitchen waste to organic resource

Food and organic waste sent to landfill contributes 4% to the ACT’s greenhouse gas emissions and squanders a valuable resource. The most beneficial use of food waste, after recovery and distribution of still-edible food, is as compost. Compost can be used to regenerate soil and nurture new plant life, helping soils and plants to sequester carbon and hold moisture. Improving collection from residential and commercial premises will reduce compost waste going to landfill, and enable us to reuse this valuable resource on both public and private lands.

01. Roll out food and organic waste collection to all Canberra households (prioritising multi-unit residences) accompanied by a strong public education campaign.

02. Provide funding to small-medium enterprise and community groups to undertake localised food waste collection and composting programs.

03. Update planning laws to ensure that new multi-unit residences and commercial buildings are constructed with space and facilities to separate and collect food and organic waste.

04. Require commercial and retail centres and food businesses with large quantities of compostable waste to establish in-house source-separated organic waste collection.

05. Ensure that contracts for organic waste collection enable composted material to be supplied for municipal landscape services (to support urban forest and biodiversity objectives), and for a percentage of material to be made available to community groups.

Take action

With a new ministry in place, Canberrans can continue to call on the government to step up for the future of our city. Our handy action guides will help you to take action.

Action guides:

We’re working to protect the environment in the ACT and beyond. Join us!

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