The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
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Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
05 March 2004
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today joined Clean Up Australia Chairman, Ian Kiernan, to help Melbourne primary students clean up their school environment.
Dr Kemp and Mr Kiernan met with students at Bentleigh West Primary School in Melbourne - one of 496 schools around Victoria and more than 2500 across Australia who spent the day picking up rubbish as part of Schools Clean Up Day.
"I'm delighted to see so many keen young environmentalists, not only picking up litter but also sorting the recyclable items," Dr Kemp said.
"They have not only made a difference to their own neighbourhood, but they've also made a real contribution to government policy by filling in Clean Up's Rubbish Report.
"For ten years, the Rubbish Report has shown plastic products as the major source of litter, amounting to over 30 per cent of rubbish collected. It's one of the reasons I've been so keen to work with industry to reduce the impact of plastic bags and other packaging on the environment. It's why the Government contributes to 'Bag Yourself a Better Environment' — a plastic bag awareness campaign run by Clean-up Australia.
"The Rubbish Report also finds that almost half the waste collected could be recycled. I'm delighted to see that the children at Bentleigh West recycle their plastic, cardboard and cans in separate bins. They also make sure their food scraps are recycled — some goes to the compost or the worm farm for the vegetable garden, and the scraps go to the chooks and geese.
"This school is an example to us all of how to put environment sustainability at the centre of everyday life. They have two rainwater tanks and they are about to divert stormwater to build a wetland. The children are learning to refuse, re-use, reduce and recycle everything from the plastic in their lunchboxes to the office paper.
"This Government has invested record amounts to tackle Australia's big picture environment challenges — the $2.7 billion through the Natural Heritage Trust and $1.4 billion with the States in the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality. But you can't put a dollar value on this invaluable community activity.
"In 2003, Clean Up Australia collected 6000 tonnes of rubbish nationwide, bringing the total collected since the program began to an amazing 190,000 tonnes. And the involvement of schools keeps growing - last year 290 Victorian schools signed up while this year the number has grown to 496 schools or approximately 160,000 students.
"In fact, one third of the clean-up sites last year, as part of the national Clean-Up campaign, were schools — that's 2000 schools across Australia and around 500,000 students. "This year's Clean Up message is 'Make Australia Shine' — and as we've seen today, there are so many practical and simple ways people of every age can make a difference in their own neighbourhood."