Waste Management and Recycling

Ms WELLS (Lilley) (12:17): Littering and mismanaged waste is a serious threat to our environment and significantly impacts the use, enjoyment and value of our local parks and waterways. Plastic waste, in particular, has a serious impact on our environment, especially our oceans and fisheries. Australians generate approximately 103 kilograms of plastic per person each year, but only 12 per cent of that plastic waste is recycled. The rest is either burned, buried or sent overseas.

Two per cent of our carbon emissions come from waste. It goes without saying that this is a significant issue for environmental protection, for sustainability and for our response to climate change. Unfortunately, when faced with the science and the facts, this government has been too slow in responding to Australia's growing waste problem. Two-thirds of the government's so-called recycling investment plan we're speaking about today is made up of repackaged loan funds. The $100 million Australian Recycling Investment Fund is nothing more than a new label slapped on existing Clean Energy Finance Corporation moneys. This is not a form of new investment and it's not matched funding as previously suggested by the government speakers today. There is no direct funding support, or in fact procurement policies, in place to help establish the necessary Australian recycling industry.

There is no doubt that Australians are ready to play their part by trying to use less plastic and re-use and recycle where possible, and businesses are willing and able to be part of major change. As an example, I am proud to stand in this place and speak about the success of my home state of Queensland and our pioneer cash for container recycling scheme. Containers for Change is a statewide program that gives Queenslanders an incentive to collect and return containers to designated collection points in exchange for a 10c refund payment. That 10c can either go back into their pockets or can be donated directly to a community group or sports club. The program is operated by the not-for-profit company COEX and it is backed by the Queensland Labor government. It aims to cut down on littering, encourage recycling and reduce the percentage of waste that ends up in landfill. The program has now been running for 12 months and it's going gangbusters. In the first weekend of the scheme, Queenslanders recycled almost 1.5 million containers. One year on, our recycling rate has increased from 45 per cent to 62 per cent, and a total of one billion containers have been returned across 330 designated collection points in the state. I would specifically like to thank Sandgate District State High School and Stafford State School in my electorate of Lilley for hosting designated drop-off points.

The greater Brisbane area alone has recycled over 402 million containers and received back $40.26 million over the past year. While the Containers for Change program has been a great success, with a 17 per cent increase in recycling over the past 12 months, we aren't done yet. Queenslanders have set a target to lift our recycling rate to 85 per cent by 2022. The statistics show that Queenslanders care about recycling and about keeping our state great. Feedback I've been receiving from my constituents at mobile offices in Virginia, Sandgate and Wavell Heights is that they love the program and they want more investment in developing effective and sustainable waste management systems to protect our environment.

Cleaning up our community is not the only benefit of Containers for Change. It provides benefits to social enterprises throughout Queensland by funding smaller scale infrastructure projects to set up donation points, to create fundraising opportunities for community groups, charities and not-for-profits. Investment in emerging industries like recycling and sustainable waste management not only has exponential impacts for the environment but it boosts local jobs and is great for our local economy. Through the Containers for Change program, 700 new jobs have been created across Queensland in only one year. Just across the border in New South Wales, new recycling technology is being created by Dr Len Humphreys and Professor Thomas Maschmeyer which can convert plastic back into source materials, including oil. This is a remarkable and promising breakthrough that illustrates untapped ingenuity in Australian scientific research and innovation. It could be used as a better recycling process creates new manufacturing job opportunities. Unfortunately, the company taking the idea to market has been forced to open their first recycling plant in the United Kingdom because this government does not offer the necessary market incentives and clear policy framework to support a plastics recycling facility of this kind in Australia.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Bird ): The time allotted for the debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.