Waste management will be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry, after the Senate passed a motion moved by Senator Simon Birmingham this morning.
The move comes as the federal and state governments claim to be working towards a phase-out of single-use plastic bags by 2009, but with the Rudd Government flip flopping on ruling out the imposition of a levy.
“We need to be taking a holistic approach to the issue of waste management, rather than the Government’s piecemeal approach of picking off plastic bags or the pursuit of container deposit legislation in isolation,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“These may be worthwhile initiatives but, as policy makers, we need to be examining the use of natural resources, litter and landfill and how best to minimise greenhouse emissions, and then move on those initiatives that will make the greatest difference.
“Plastic bags account for only a small portion of plastics in the waste stream and a minimal amount of landfill. The Government’s obsession with removing them rather than taking a comprehensive approach to waste highlights its desire for cheap headlines over substantive environmental policies.
“I’m confident the Senate Standing Committee on the Environment, Communications and the Arts will provide valuable information towards taking the holistic approach necessary to most effectively manage waste in our pursuit to protect the environment.”
Senator Birmingham’s motion, passed by the Senate this morning, was to refer to the Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee for inquiry and report by August 2008:
Management of Australia’s waste streams, with particular reference to:
a)     trends in waste production in Australia across household, consumer, commercial and industrial waste streams;
b)     effectiveness of existing strategies to reduce, recover or reuse waste from difference waste streams;
c)      potential new strategies to reduce, recover or reuse waste from different waste streams;
d)     the economic, environmental and social benefits and costs of such strategies;
e)     policy priorities to maximise the efficiency and efficacy of efforts to reduce, recover or reuse waste from different waste streams; and
f)       consideration of the Drink Container Recycling Bill 2008.