National Recycling Week
I remember back in the late 1980s when recycling started to become more popular. I watched a program on which Elle Macpherson talked about the virtues of recycling and how easy it was. We had a family meeting to talk about how we were going to deal with our recyclable waste. We had had a compost bin for years, as my parents were keen gardeners, and we always reused glass jars as my mum used them for bottling fruit. But the waste collection services did not provide bins as they do now, so getting rid of the paper and glass that we could not reuse was more difficult. Having just got my licence, I volunteered to drive the paper, cans and glass to the local recycling depot once a week to dispose of them responsibly. We started doing that, and it felt like a powerful, tangible step to help the environment. Since those times, more and more items have become easy to recycle. We have recycling collection services, so things have improved.
Many years later, when I ran a small business, my company was proactive in recycling. We did not use polystyrene cups. We were one of the few coach companies to reuse cups. We also reused paper when printers were able to print on only one side of the paper at a time. We recycled toner cartridges, mobile phones and batteries and all sorts of other resources before it became a normal part of life. This gave our business the opportunity to save money and to contribute positively to the environment, and it made our staff feel that same sense of empowerment and positivity that I felt as a teenager more than 20 years ago.
When I was elected to this place I was surprised to find that my electorate office did not have bins for paper or other recycling. During the many attempts that it took for me to implement recycling bins in my office, I often took recycled waste to my own house to dispose of responsibly. The irony did not escape me that the Liberal member who had previously occupied my office was the former Minister for the Environment under this Government. All households and businesses, including our own, have a responsibility to properly recycle for the betterment of our environment. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Planet Ark's National Recycling Week, which focuses on educating people about recycling initiatives in homes and businesses, as well as giving people the skills and knowledge they need to minimise waste and manage resources responsibly in the community. This week offers many opportunities for schools, households and businesses to learn about the environmental benefits of recycling and about how to recycle properly.
On my Facebook page, which includes the address for the recyclingnearyou.com.au app, there is a flyer showing the six golden rules of recycling. Over the past 25 years recycling has become important. The flyer tells people how to recycle some of the more difficult items and which new items can be recycled. Recycling has a positive impact on our environment. Recycling one tonne of paper and cardboard can save 13 trees. Making glass from recycled material requires only 40 per cent of the energy used to make glass from sand. Every tonne of steel made from scrap steel saves 1,131 kilograms of iron ore, 54 kilograms of limestone and 633 kilograms of coal.
I would like to see the Government adopt more Labor policies like the container deposit scheme. I also hope that the Government will support Labor's bill to ban single-use plastic bags. The Government has encouraged councils to recycle more by cost-shifting waste levies to them so that it costs them more to get rid of rubbish. While that is difficult for councils to deal with economically, it encourages them to recycle. Maitland City Council, in my electorate, is at the forefront of recycling efforts in the Hunter region. It is challenging illegal dumping through a combination of education, prevention methods and enforcement. Council should be commended for its attempts to increase recycling in households, schools and businesses and for introducing larger recycling bins to encourage more recycling.
Recycling plays an important part in conservation. We should recognise the significance of National Recycling Week. I congratulate those households, schools and businesses across New South Wales that do the right thing by recycling and are mindful of the impacts of rubbish and contaminants on our environment. We should all aim to minimise our waste and increase the percentage of waste that we recycle. It is not just about recycling; it is also about reusing and not wantonly consuming.