Through their behaviour, industries and households have both direct and indirect impacts on whether natural resources are used prudently and efficiently, and on the extent of waste and pollution. This chapter provides information on some of the practices - and consequences - of Australian households and industry in relation to environmental management and protection.
The chapter commences with an examination of the level of recycling and type of waste management practices reported by Australian households. Although being placed among the top ten generators of household waste in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, the number of households in Australia practising recycling and re-use of waste continues to increase.
Besides households, Australian industries are also generators of waste and pollution. This chapter looks at the type of waste and degradation produced by the mining and manufacturing sectors, and provides information on the amount of money spent by these industries to manage the waste and protect the environment. Some information on the quantities of solid and liquid waste going to landfill and other facilities is also included.
Compared with other continents, Australia is characterised by variable climatic conditions and high levels of evapotranspiration. These factors result in a low proportion of rainfall converted to streamflow, making freshwater a valuable resource. The sections Water supply and use and Water stocks provide information on both surface water and groundwater resources in Australia, and explores water use by Australian industries and households. There is a particular focus on agriculture and water use, with agriculture accounting for two-thirds of all water use in Australia.
There is widespread national and international concern that human activities are linked to global warming and climate change by way of an enhanced greenhouse effect. According to the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Australia's total net emissions of greenhouse gases increased by 4.5% between 1990 and 2002. The chapter includes an examination of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, and the major contributors to these emissions.