Bob Brown used to turn lights off all around parliament.
His Tasmanian successor Peter Whish-Wilson is checking the bins.
The Greens senator told a budget estimates hearing recyclable cutlery was a big issue around the country, and not just because of COVID-19 safety measures.
"People are paying good money to do the right thing," he said on Monday.
Having plant-based bio-packs in parliament's canteen is "awesome" but the cutlery is only commercially compostable if people put it in the right place, he said.
"Every time I go in there I have a look in the bins."
He said if mixed up with landfill, they could take thousands of years to break down just like other products.
Cups and takeaway food containers were also questionable.
"Australia is looking for leadership from Canberra," Senator Whish-Wilson said.
President of the Senate Scott Ryan said he was very happy to take any advice, limited only by the number of bins that can be fitted into the place.
"I've learnt something today," he said.