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4613.0 - Australia's Environment: Issues and Trends, Jan 2010  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/01/2010   
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This document was added 02/05/2010.



WASTE

WASTE GENERATION BY STATE, 2006-07
Graph: Waste generation by state, 2006-07
Source: Environmental Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) National Waste Overview 2009.


Australians generated approximately 43.8 million tonnes of waste (approximately 2,080 kilograms of waste per person) in 2006–07. The states responsible for the largest proportions of the country’s waste generation in 2006–07 were the three most populous states: NSW (35%), Victoria (23%) and Queensland (18%).

SOLID WASTE GENERATION BY SOURCE, AUSTRALIA, 2006-07
Graph: Solid waste generation by source, Australia, 2006-07
Source: Environmental Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) National Waste Overview 2009.


Of the 43.8 million tonnes of waste generated in Australia in 2006–07, 29% came from municipal sources, 33% from the commercial and industrial sector, and 38% from the construction and demolition sector. Municipal waste includes domestic waste and council waste.

Growth in the amount of waste generated per person in Australia has been driven by a number of economic and demographic factors. A consequence of Australia's fast-growing, materially intensive economy is the production of large quantities of waste. International evidence suggests that economic growth contributes to growth in waste generation per person (Endnote 1).

Population demographics can also influence waste generation volumes. Australians tend to live in smaller household groups than they have in the past (Endnote 2). A possible consequence of this is an increase in the consumption of smaller-serve goods that have more packaging.

PER CAPITA WASTE GENERATION BY STATE, 2006-07
Graph: Per capita waste generation by state, 2006-07
Source: Environmental Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) National Waste Overview 2009.

TOTAL WASTE DISPOSED TO LANDFILL
Graph: Total waste disposed to landfill
Source: Department of Climate Change, 2009, National Inventory Report 2007 Volume 2.


Australia has a strong dependence on landfill for waste management. Between 2001 and 2007, the volume of waste deposited into landfill increased markedly. In 2001, 19 million tonnes of waste were disposed to landfill, and by 2007 this figure had grown to 21.3 million tonnes (a 12% increase) (Endnote 3). Increases in Australia’s population and per capita income over the period are likely to have contributed to the rise in waste production.

During 2006–07, nearly half (48%) of all waste was disposed to landfill. Approximately 60% of municipal waste, 44% of commercial and industrial waste and 43% of construction and demolition waste went into landfill in 2006–07 (Endnote 4).

The chief environmental concerns associated with modern landfills are emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly methane, and the possible long-term pollution of the environment through leaching of heavy metals, household chemicals, consumer electronic products and earlier generation rechargeable batteries, such as ni-cads (Endnote 5).
RECYCLING, PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL WASTE, BY STATE, 2006-07
Graph: Recycling, percentage of total waste, by state, 2006-07
Source: Environmental Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) National Waste Overview 2009.


Recycling of waste materials reduces the volume of waste disposed in landfills.
The estimated recycling rate in Australia for 2006–07 was 52%. However, the recycling rate varied between states and territories. The Australian Capital Territory recycled three-quarters of the waste it generated, while Western Australia recycled only one-third (33%).

RECYCLING AND REUSE OF WASTE IN HOUSEHOLDS
Graph: Recycling and reuse of waste in households
Source: ABS, 2009, Environmental Issues: Waste Management and Transport Use March 2009 (cat. no. 4602.0.55.002).


The recycling activities of households grew extensively between 1996 and 2009. In March 1996, 91% of Australian households said they practised some form of waste recycling and/or reuse activity. By March 2009, almost all households (99%) reported that they recycled and/or reused. There is a disparity in recycling between rural and urban areas, which may be due to limited implementation of kerbside recycling schemes in rural areas due to higher costs (Endnote 5).

WASTE ITEMS RECYCLED AND/OR REUSED BY HOUSEHOLDS
Graph: Waste items recycled and/or reused by households
(a) Includes cardboard and newspapers.
Source: ABS, 2009, Environmental Issues: Waste Management and Transport Use March 2009 (cat. no. 4602.0.55.002).


In 2009, paper products were recycled and/or reused by 95% of Australian households, 94% of households recycled or reused plastic bottles, 93% recycled or reused glass, 91% cans and 90% plastic bags. In 2000, 85% of households recycled or reused paper, 81% recycled or reused plastic bottles and 82% recycled or reused glass. Only 13% of households recycled motor oil in 2009 (12% in 2000).

The proportion of households recycling organic waste (e.g. garden waste and kitchen or food waste) has also increased over time. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of households recycled garden waste in 2009, up from 60% in 2000.

Australians are among the highest users of new technology in the world. Waste from obsolete electronic goods, or “e-waste”, is one of the fastest growing waste types (Endnote 5).

In 2007–08, 31.7 million new televisions, computers and computer products were sold in Australia. Another 16.8 million units reached the end of their life that year. Of these, 88% ended up in landfill (Endnote 6).


ENDNOTES

1. Productivity Commission, 2006, Inquiry Report No. 38: Waste Management.
2. ABS, 2006, Measures of Australia’s Progress 2006 (cat. no. 1370.0).
3. Department of Climate Change, 2009, National Inventory Report 2007 Volume 2.
4. Environmental Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), National Waste Overview 2009.
5. ABS, 2006, Australia’s Environment: Issues and Trends 2006 (cat. no. 4613.0).
6. Hyder Consulting and Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 2009, Environment Protection and Heritage Council – Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement: Televisions and Computers.

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