On Tuesday morning, Castlemaine Secondary College successfully passed their Bill through the 2017 Youth Parliament of Victoria.
The Bill, titled Classification of Edible Consumables Environmental Footprint Bill 2017, aims to increase consumer awareness about the environmental impacts of the food they are buying.
Castlemaine Secondary College wants to achieve this by enforcing companies to place more information on the packaging of consumable products, such as, how far the food has travelled, the amount of water used to produce the food and the greenhouse gas effects of the product.
“This Bill aims to create a clear understanding amongst consumers of the environmental impacts of the production and transportation of edible goods,” Minister Barker told the Legislative Assembly.
“It has undeniable ethical benefits…this Bill helps address significant environmental threats. There is no ambiguity or guesswork in this Bill.”
However, Opposition Leader Ms Reynolds led her party’s disagreement.
“One would not be surprised if every member present understood the logistical impracticalities in this Bill. There is no way this could be effective,” she argued.
Ms Reynolds called the Bill “idealistic” and said it “cannot be executed properly”.
The Opposition pointed out at the amount of money that companies would need to spend to rebrand and repackage their products to accommodate the proposed Bill.
Honourable Member Todd said the proposed packaging would be an “overcomplicated display of information” and “it would be very challenging in terms of design”.
In response, the government, led by the students from Castlemaine Secondary College, focused on the environmental importance of the Bill.
“This Bill is an important stepping stone in the long campaign against climate change,” Mr Michielin told the chamber.
“By educating millions of people…we can give to them the previously unattainable knowledge of where their food comes from and the impacts of their choices.”
But Honourable Member Necliker for the Opposition said the Bill does not go far enough.
“It does not account for the environmental impact of pesticides. Nor does it account for deforestation. No amount of stickers is going to change that.”
The Opposition proposed two amendments to the Bill, both which were agreed upon by the chamber.
The first included a definition of the word ‘tariff’ to clarify the consequences for those companies who do not comply with the Bill. In addition, the Opposition wanted to add an overall environmental grade label on each product with a rating between one and five. They proposed this would simplify the packaging for consumers, clearly displaying the overall environmental impact of each product.
The Bill was then unanimously passed through the Youth Parliament of 2017, with Castlemaine Secondary College quietly celebrating, seeing their hard work, effort and time pay off.
The State Government will now consider Castlemaine Secondary College’s Bill, and decide whether they will table it to the Victorian Parliament.