4602.0.55.002 - Environmental Issues: Waste Management, Transport and Motor Vehicle Usage, Mar 2012 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 26/10/2012   
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1 The statistics in this publication were compiled from data collected in the Waste Management, Transport and Motor Vehicle Usage (WMTU) Survey conducted throughout Australia in March 2012 as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS). The survey collected data on how households manage their waste and how people usually travel to work, study and other places. Information was also collected on household motor vehicle and bicycle ownership. This survey is a continuation of a series of surveys on this topic conducted since March 1996. The previous WMTU Survey was conducted in March 2009.

2 The publication Labour Force, Australia (cat. no. 6202.0) contains information about the LFS survey design, scope, coverage and population benchmarks. This information also applies to supplementary surveys. The LFS publication contains definitions of demographic characteristics and information about telephone interviewing.


3 The scope of this supplementary survey was persons aged 18 years and over who were usual residents of private dwellings and excluded the following:

  • members of the Australian permanent defence forces
  • certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from censuses and surveys
  • overseas residents in Australia
  • members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependents)
  • households in Indigenous Community Frame (ICF) Collection Districts (CDs).

4 This supplementary survey also excluded people living in special dwellings (such as hotels, university residences, students at boarding schools, patients in hospitals, residents of homes (e.g. retirement homes, homes for persons with disabilities), and inmates of prisons).

5 This supplementary survey was conducted in urban, rural, remote and very remote areas in all states and territories of Australia, except Indigenous Communities. This is the first time the WMTU Survey has included households residing in very remote parts of Australia, namely in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. This inclusion has minimal impact on Australian level estimates.


6 The survey's coverage was households in urban, rural, remote and very remote areas in all states and territories of Australia, excluding households in ICF CDs.


7 The Monthly Population Survey (MPS) is based on a multi-stage area sample of private dwellings (houses, flats etc.) and a list sample of non-private dwellings (hotels, motels etc.). The sample size for a MPS is approximately 33,000 dwellings but only half of these were included in the WMTU Survey. After taking into account sample loss, the response rate for the survey was 90%. In total, information was collected from 12,870 fully responding households.

8 Information was collected through either face-to-face or telephone interviews conducted over a two week period during March 2012. Information was collected from any responsible adult in the household aged 18 years and over, responding on behalf of the household for the waste management and motor vehicle ownership topics, and for a randomly selected household member for the transport use topic.



9 Weighting is the process of adjusting results from a sample survey to infer results for the total population. To do this, a 'weight' is allocated to each enumerated person or household. The weight is a value which indicates how many persons or households in the population are represented by the sample person or household.

10 The first step in calculating weights for each unit is to assign an initial weight, which is the inverse of the probability of the unit being selected in the survey. For example, if the probability of a person being selected in the survey was 1 in 1,200, then the person would have an initial weight of 1,200 (that is, they represent 1,200 people).

Population Benchmarks

11 The initial weights are then calibrated to align with independent estimates of the population, referred to as benchmarks. The population included in the benchmarks is the survey scope. This calibration process ensures that the weighted data conform to the independently estimated distribution of the population described by the benchmarks rather than to the distribution within the sample itself. Calibration to population benchmarks helps to compensate for over or under-enumeration of particular categories of persons which may occur due to either the random nature of sampling or non-response.

12 The survey uses estimated resident population (ERP) based person and household benchmarks for each state and territory of Australia, as at 31 March 2012.


13 Survey estimates of counts of persons or households are obtained by summing the weights of persons or households with the characteristic of interest.


14 Estimates in this publication are subject to sampling and non-sampling errors:
  • Sampling error is the difference between the published estimate and the value that would have been produced if all dwellings had been included in the survey. For further information refer to the Technical Note.
  • Non-sampling error may occur in any collection whether it is based on a sample or a full count such as a census. Sources of non-sampling error include non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording answers by interviewers, and errors in coding and processing data. Every effort is made to reduce the non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the questionnaire, training of interviewers, extensive editing and quality control procedures at all stages of data processing and follow up of respondents.


15 Information recorded in this survey is essentially ‘as reported’ by respondents and hence may differ from that which might be obtained from other sources or via other methodologies. This factor should be considered when interpreting the estimates in this publication.


16 The previous WMTU survey was conducted in March 2009. Data from the 2012 WMTU Survey is released under the title Environmental Issues: Waste Management, Transport and Motor Vehicle Usage, 2012 (cat. no. 4602.0.55.002) whereas data from the 2009 WMTU survey has been released under the title Environmental Issues: Waste Management and Transport Use, Mar 2009 (cat. no. 4602.0.55.002). Please note, that the catalogue numbers of these two releases are the same.

17 Prior to 2008, the annual publication Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices (cat. no. 4602.0) focussed on one of three rotating topics each year: Energy Use and Conservation; Waste Management, Transport and Motor Vehicle Usage; and Water Use and Conservation.

18 The ABS seeks to maximise consistency and comparability of estimates over time by minimising changes to its surveys. However, sound survey practice requires ongoing review to maintain the relevance of the data. A few changes were made to the survey between 2009 and 2012 which may impact on the comparability between surveys. These changes are outlined below:
  • Household items recycled and/or reused
  • Frequency of collection/drop off
  • Hazardous waste items disposed
      • Garden or pool chemicals or their containers - pool chemicals added in 2012
      • Metal cleaners or their containers - not asked in 2012
      • LPG gas bottles - not asked in 2012
  • Motor vehicles
      • Number of each motor vehicle type kept at dwelling - not collected in 2012
  • Transport
      • Other form of travel used in conjunction with main to get to work/full-time study
      • Other form of travel sometimes used to get to work/full-time study
      • Reason for walking or cycling to work/full-time study
      • Usually takes passengers to or from work/full-time study
      • Forms of travel used, other than to work/full-time study
      • Forms of public transport available - not collected in 2012
      • Average number of days per week cycles for travel - new in 2012
      • Whether cycles for sport, exercise or recreation - new in 2012
  • Dwelling characteristics
      • Dwelling type - new in 2012


19 Country of birth data are classified according to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2011 (cat. no. 1269.0).

20 Remoteness areas are classified according to the Statistical Geography Volume 1 - Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), Jul 2006 (cat. no. 1216.0).


21 ABS surveys draw extensively on information provided by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


22 The ABS plans to conduct this survey again in March 2015.


23 Users may also wish to refer to the following ABS publications:


24 Further key references on waste management and transport use can be found through the following web sites:
  • Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (http://www.environment.gov.au)
  • Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (http://www.climatechange.gov.au)
  • Current publications and other products released by the ABS are available on the ABS website. The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the website which details products to be released in the week ahead.


25 All tables in this product release are available in a Data Cube (one spreadsheet for each topic). For a list of tables in each of the three data cubes, please refer the contents page of each spreadsheet.


26 In addition to the statistics provided in this publication, the ABS may have other relevant data available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey. All inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070.