This effort to target food waste reduction is part of the ACT Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan 2023-2030, that was introduced by Minister for City Services Christian Steel and passed in the Legislative Assembly last month.
Under this legislation, businesses will have to have proper food waste reduction plans in place, separate their food waste and recycle whatever is left over. Those failing to do so could face fines of up to $40,000 for improperly disposing of their food waste.
These fines, however, won’t be implemented in the short term. Instead, the government will initially focus their approach on providing businesses with sufficient education and helping them get ready for the new legislation.
In a statement to the ABC, Minister Steel said about 9,500 tonnes of organic food waste in the city are currently going to landfill, which contributes to climate change through the production of methane.
"The powers will be used to initially focus on food waste because it can be easily recycled and separated by those food businesses, and there are a range of food recyclers in the ACT that can take that material or compost so that it doesn't go into landfill, contributing to climate change," said Minister Steel.
“These new regulations are an important part of working with businesses to ensure that we tackle greenhouse [gas] emissions in the ACT.”
While work has already been underway to reduce plastic pollution, this legislation steps up waste reduction efforts by addressing other problematic, non-plastic products and identifying the harmful effects that these products can have on the environment and human health.
Minister Steel recognised that this legislation would bring in added costs to businesses in order to comply with the regulations and move towards more circular food practices, but said the benefits would outweigh these costs for the ACT.
"We think that there will be significant benefits for the economy in building up the local recycling industry and food waste reduction organisations, but also in prolonging the life of the ACT's landfill and reducing the amount that is coming from our landfill in terms of greenhouse emissions," Minister Steel said.
These laws in the Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan are part of the ACT Government’s extended list of 53 actions determined to transition Canberra towards a circular economy.
To learn more about the ACT’s circular economy plan, visit ACT Circular Economy Strategy and Action Plan 2023-2030.