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December 18, 2009

G Online

Bag ban, container recycling and more for NT

The Northern Territory has today announced a ban on single-use plastic bags, the introduction of a 'Cash for Containers' scheme and a host of other green initiatives, with plans to reduce total carbon emissions by 60 per cent of 2007 levels by 2050.

The plans were revealed today with the release of the Territory's much-anticipated Climate Change Policy, which also outlines a goal for the government to become a carbon neutral organisation within eight years.

"Climate change is one of the most important issues facing our community. It cannot be ignored. It cannot be tackled piecemeal," said Chief Minister Paul Henderson in a statement.

"The Territory Government will take the lead and bring the community with us to effect change."

In order to achieve the over-arching goal of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions, the policy addresses nine key elements, including developing a green workforce, building green cities and towns, looking towards green energy and rethinking waste.

As part of plans to minimise emissions from the waste sector, the Territory will introduce new legislation next year to ban retailers from providing single-use plastic bags to customers. By enforcing a shift towards reusable shopping bags, the NT Government hopes to not only reduce emissions created through the production and transport of plastic bags, but to protect local wildlife from the dangers of discarded bags, it said in the Policy document.

This measure sees the Territory follow in the footsteps of South Australia, which completed its own phase-out of plastic bags in May this year (see G's news story here).

Also taking a note from South Australia's book, the NT Government will introduce container deposit legislation to establish its own 'Cash for Containers' program by 2011. By providing a a monetary incentive for NT residents to return containers to designated collection points, the scheme will be a "key strategy in reducing waste...and boosting recycling efforts," the Policy read. "The Territory will be cleaner and greener."

The government also announced plans for better land management, with the annual rate of land clearing being capped to help sequester at least four million tonnes of carbon each year by 2020, aided by the establishment of carbon offsetting arrangements.

"Other notable [plans] include developing Alice Springs and Central Australia as a world-leading solar energy centre by 2020; developing Weddell as a world-class green city and replacing diesel with renewable and low-emission energy sources in remote communities by 2020," said Karl Hampton, NT Minister for Climate Change.

"Even though the Territory has a relatively small carbon footprint, our policy puts us on a strong footing to play our part in the global effort."


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