1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Australia has a strong dependence on landfill as a form of waste management. The majority of waste that is not recycled or re-used in Australia is disposed of in the nation's landfills.

Landfills can impact on air, water and land quality. Landfill gas, mainly methane, is produced by decomposing organic waste which contributes to global warming when released to the air. Water moving from, or through, landfill waste forms leachate which has the potential to contaminate nearby surface and ground water. Potentially hazardous substances can also migrate through the surrounding soil via leachate or landfill gas.

Between 2001 and 2007, the volume of waste deposited to landfill increased by 12%. In 2001, 19.0 million tonnes of waste were disposed to landfill, and by 2007 this had grown to more than 21.3 million tonnes.

Other indicators show that 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 42% of construction and demolition waste went into landfill in 2006–07 (EPHC 2009).

Increases in Australia’s population and per capita income over the period are likely to have contributed to the rise in waste production. This is due to the link between waste production and economic growth, whereby more waste is produced through the increased production and purchasing of goods and services. In 2007-08, there were 31.7 million new televisions, computers and computer products sold in Australia. A further 16.8 million units reached the end of their life that year, and of these, 84% were disposed to landfill (Hyder Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers 2009).


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