Speech: Single-use and other plastics products Bill

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (16:11): I rise today to speak on the Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Bill 2020. This bill represents the next logical step to achieving a cleaner and more sustainable state. It is the result of careful planning and close consultation with the community over the last few years. I commend the Minister for the Environment Mr David Speirs, a friend and colleague, for championing this cause and the great work he has done.

South Australians can be proud of how we have managed waste. We were one of the first states to introduce the container scheme in 1977. In 2017-18, we recovered almost 603 million containers to be recycled. In 2009, we became the first state to ban lightweight plastic bags from supermarket check-outs. With this bill, we have the opportunity to keep being leaders in environmental sustainability.

On commencement, the bill would ban single-use plastic straws, cutlery and drink stirrers from sale, supply and distribution. Twelve months from commencement date, the distribution of expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates, clamshell containers and oxo-degradable plastic products would then be prohibited. This is a great opportunity before us, and we look forward to getting on with this job.

Last year, the government sought feedback from community and businesses on how to better protect natural resources and reduce the impact of single-use plastics on the environment. The state government set up its voluntary trial of Plastic Free Precincts. These precincts were characterised by the use of alternatives to single-use plastics. They were involved in identifying the opportunities and challenges associated with those alternatives and have helped inform the bill before us today, a bill that seeks a cleaner and greener environment for all South Australians to enjoy.

As the member for Gibson, I was fortunate enough to have one of these precincts in my electorate. Jetty Road, Brighton, traders jumped on board. I am so proud of what these local small businesses have achieved. As you know, Jetty Road is a busy and popular street leading to Brighton Beach and the jetty. Its friendly cafes attract visitors not only from neighbouring streets and suburbs but from the rest of Adelaide and the wider region. Especially during COVID time, people have loved getting down to the beach.

What did becoming a Plastic Free Precinct mean for local businesses on Jetty Road? They changed how they operate—small change, but great change with benefits for the wider community. By changing how they operate, these cafes and other small businesses in plastics-free precincts reduced their waste and their customers' waste.

Take a local Brighton cafe, the Seller Door, for example. Its owner, Tom Rodger, has done an outstanding job transitioning away from single-use plastics. One of the features of his cafe is cornstarch straws that are indistinguishable from plastic straws. These straws are biodegradable and compostable and a fantastic way to ensure that nothing is wasted. Thanks to Tom's management, the Seller Door has been so successful that it was named a plastic-free champion and identified as one of the businesses doing a superb job of reducing their plastic footprint. We know that plastic straw litter along the beach is an eyesore and bad for the environment, and it is something we want to curtail.

There is also Big Shots Cafe, which is owned by Joshua Anderson. Big Shots is aiming to be 100 per cent plastic free. They use fully compostable plastic-free packaging for their burger boxes, coffee cups, lids and cutlery. The Brighton Jetty Bakery, owned and run by David and Dahlia Matkovic, uses recycled paper bags and boxes for takeaways, along with paper straws, bamboo cutlery and compostable coffee cups. Finally, Delicia at Brighton use paper cups and straws, and the materials they use for their takeaway bowls, lids and cups are biodegradable.

These small businesses have embraced a novel way of operating, liberated from the single-use plastics. It may seem like a small thing—changes to straws that we use or the cups we have our coffee in—but small changes and new habits make a massive difference in the long run. We know that the result will be positive, that is, a great reduction in the state's waste. I really want to commend the spirit and flexibility shown by local business owners like those on Jetty Road, Brighton.

It has not been just the cafes on Jetty Road that have embraced the challenge and changing ways that we do business. Just around the corner from the Brighton traders is the fantastic Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club. Brighton was one of dozens of surf lifesaving clubs around the state to take part in the Plastic Free Precincts program. The volunteers of the Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club, led by their hardworking president, Chris Parsons, run massive events throughout the summer. They put on big events such as the Brighton Jetty Classic, the big swimming event down there, attracting people from all over, as you would imagine.

It takes great resources to satisfy the hunger and quench the thirst of the large crowds at massive events like these, creating waste in a world of single-use plastics. However, like other surf lifesaving clubs, Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club is leading the way and paving the progress towards a cleaner and more sustainable environment. Can I also say that my daughter, at our local high school, Brighton Secondary School, carries a metal straw with her wherever she goes. I find it quite fascinating. She has a little straw cleaner as well, and she is very committed to the cause.

When she visits the cafe strip, she has her metal straw in her handbag or her backpack, or whatever it might be. She is also working with the school in looking at ways in which they can ban single-use plastics. So everyone is getting right behind this in the Brighton community and in the wider community in the electorate of Gibson, where we are situated.

When it comes to plastic-free environments, I am fortunate to have a pioneering group in my electorate, a wonderful group who are really at the forefront of ridding our state of single-use plastics. The state government's trial has shown that it is possible for committed small businesses to achieve a more sustainable way of operating. Cafes in my electorate have been a big part of the group creating the Plastic Free Precincts, leading us forward, experimenting and finding out what works to give the rest of us a sure and clear path to follow.

We know that it is possible to use alternatives to single-use plastics. We know that these alternatives reduce our waste. We know what we have to do as a state. Let's take this great opportunity to move forward, riding the wave of our recent experiences and victories. Our Plastic Free Precincts have worked. Let's build on the good work of everyone involved and move closer to becoming a plastic-free state. I commend the bill to the house.

Authorised by Corey Wingard MP, Member for Gibson. Level 2, 1 Milham Street Oaklands Park SA 5046. ©Copyright / Legal / Login