QUESTION: Recycling in Parliament House

In Question Time, Mark asked the President of the Legislative Council about recycling in Parliament House.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: For some time, I have been trying to work through official channels to get improvements to Parliament House's waste and recycling arrangements. As members would know, there is very little recycling undertaken in Parliament House outside of the paper collection bins and some facilities to collect old toner cartridges and batteries. Most of the waste generated in this building goes to landfill. That includes materials such as glass, metal, plastic and organics that we expect the rest of the community to recycle, but we don't do it here.

I first wrote to JPSC in 2008 suggesting an audit of waste and recycling, but nothing happened. After various informal attempts over the ensuing decade, I decided again last year to raise the issue more formally with JPSC. I wrote in March. I asked what was being done about recycling and I again suggested an audit. I received no reply to my letter, so I wrote again in May and then again in July, but still received no response from JPSC. So I gave the story to InDaily in the hope that it would encourage some movement.

I know from many conversations with staff in this building that people who work here are embarrassed and frustrated at how poorly our workplace performs. They say they can't say anything because they are too far down the food chain and they don't want to lose their jobs; however, I can speak out on their behalf.

My question of the President is: will the President, as the current chairperson of the Joint Parliamentary Service Committee, arrange for a report to be prepared for members on current procedures for waste management and recycling within Parliament House, including steps that are being taken to improve current performance?

The PRESIDENT: I thank the honourable member for his question. The Hon. Mr Parnell, I am not actually the chair of the Joint Parliamentary Service Committee. It is referred back to the House of Assembly. I do know, as a member previously on the JPSC, that your issue is being pursued. Your issue has been actively pursued. There have been a number of issues that have come up along the way, but it has had serious consideration and is continuing. I will bring back a comprehensive answer hopefully by the next day of sitting or soon after.

Response received on 5 March 2020:

The PRESIDENT: On Wednesday 19 February, the Hon. Mark Parnell asked me a question without notice concerning recycling in Parliament House. The question was directed to me as chairperson of the Joint Parliamentary Service Committee; however, as I advised in my initial response, that position is currently held by the Speaker of the House of Assembly.

The Hon. Mr Parnell asked me to arrange for a report to be prepared for members on the current procedures for waste management and recycling within Parliament House, including steps that are being taken to improve current performance. As these matters fall within the purview of the Joint Parliamentary Service Committee, I raised the matter at the committee's last meeting.

The committee agreed to have a report prepared and issued to members in line with the Hon. Mr Parnell's request. I would, however, like to briefly outline to the chamber just some of the initiatives that have been put in place, notwithstanding the constraints and additional costs imposed on the parliament by the continuing developments surrounding the building.

Last year, Green Industries South Australia were engaged to carry out a site visit and audit for the parliament, which provided recommendations for better waste management practices, and regular follow-up meetings continue. Where possible, those recommendations have been implemented, together with other initiatives, and they include:

  • a battery collection station has been in operation for almost 12 months;
  • printer/toner cartridges collection and recycling is undertaken through Planet Ark;
  • the collection of confidential paper bins with the material being recycled;
  • recycled paper and cardboard bins are collected three times per week;
  • light globes are collected by the preferred DPTI contractor and recycled;
  • the replacement of all lighting with LED is almost 90 per cent complete;
  • recyclable and container deposit cans, bottles and milk containers are collected by Scouts SA;
  • negotiating for some products to be now delivered without plastic wrapping;
  • energy saving technologies through the continual upgrade of the site's building management system;
  • the recent installation of variable speed drives to both cooling towers, resulting in significant energy savings; and
  • the trialling of BioBags to several locations, including the kitchen, dining areas and several offices; however, there have been issues with melting of the bags in the kitchen area.

Recycling and processing of our waste has been hampered by the loss of both the loading bay and access to Station Road. I advise that discussions are currently underway with DPTI concerning waste and cleaning contracts with a view to implementing full recycling in July 2021, subject to completion of the parliament's new purpose-built loading and waste disposal zone within the redeveloped car park, which will provide new possibilities both for collection within the building and from outside the building.

The InDaily story referred to above can be found here.