4602.0.55.005 - Waste Account, Australia, Experimental Estimates, 2016-17 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/09/2019   
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The Waste Account, Australia, Experimental Estimates, 2016-17 is the first account to be released under the Common national approach to environmental-economic accounting in Australia. The development of these estimates was supported by the Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) to help inform Australia's National Waste Policy.

Environmental Accounting Framework

This account is one of a suite of environmental-economic accounts produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) based on the United Nations System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA). The ABS first published environmental accounts in 1995, beginning with monetary estimates for a number of environmental assets within scope of the System of National Accounts (SNA) asset boundary.

The SEEA Central Framework (SEEA CF) is a conceptual framework that uses a systems approach to organise environmental and economic information. It covers, as completely as possible, the stocks and flows that are relevant to the analysis of environmental and economic issues. In using this approach, the SEEA CF applies the accounting concepts, structures, rules and principles of the (SNA). Environmental-economic accounts deliver important extensions to SNA accounts. In practice these accounts may include Physical Supply and Use tables, functional accounts (such as environmental expenditure accounts), and asset accounts for natural resources.

For this account the Physical Supply and Use tables align with the SEEA CF where possible. It differs from the SEEA CF in that a separation between residual flows and product flows is not identified. In addition there has been no identification of flows to and from the environment.


The Physical Supply table records the total supply of solid waste products within the economy (including imports). The Physical Use table records the total use of solid waste materials within the economy (including exports).


The SEEA CF (paragraph 3.269) defines solid waste as:
"...discarded materials that are no longer required by the owner or user. Where the unit discarding the materials receives no payment for the materials then the flow is considered a residual flow of solid waste. Where the unit discarding the materials receives a payment but the actual residual value of the material is small - for example in the case of scrap metal sold to a recycling firm - this flow is considered a product flow of solid waste."

The waste Physical Supply and Use tables present detailed physical data (tonnes) in terms of the supply and use of solid waste in the Australian economy for the financial year 2016-17.

The National Waste Report (NWR) 2018 compiles solid waste data provided by the states, territories and industry for the 2016-17 financial year. It presents data on solid waste sent for recycling, energy recovery from solid waste, and the disposal of solid waste to landfill. The report presents data by material category and material type. NWR is funded by DoEE and is a key data source for this account.

Monetary Supply tables illustrate the income generated by the supply of waste management service and sales of recovered waste material. The Monetary Use tables illustrate expenditure on waste management services and the purchase of recovered waste material.

Other tables provide data on the Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services industry, waste intensity and e-waste. The e-waste data relates only to domestic supply and use.


Coverage for both the Physical Supply and Use tables includes the following waste categories and materials:

Waste categoryWaste type

Masonry materials
Rubble (including non-hazardous foundry sands)
Plasterboard & cement sheeting
Non-ferrous metals (excluding aluminium)
Food organics
Garden organics
Other organics
Non-contaminated biosolids
Paper & Cardboard
Liquid paperboard
Newsprint & magazines
Office paper
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
High density polyethylene (HDPE)
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
Low density polyethylene (LDPE)
Polypropylene (PP)
Polystyrene (PS)
Other plastics
Textiles, leather & rubber (excluding tyres)
Leather & rubber (excluding tyres)
Hazardous waste
Other Hazardous Waste
Ash from coal fired power stations
Other unclassified materials

The following waste materials were out of scope and were excluded from the Physical Supply and Use tables:
  • Primary production waste
  • Waste managed entirely on-site (own use of waste)
  • Liquid waste
  • Radioactive waste
  • Waste-water (untreated effluent, sewage water and trade waste)
  • Emissions.

Industry classifications used for both the Monetary and Physical Supply and Use tables follow the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0). Businesses are allocated to a specific industry classification based on their primary business activity. The classifications used in the tables are:
  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
  • Mining
  • Manufacturing
  • Electricity, Gas & Water Services - Division D excluding Subdivision 29
  • Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services - Subdivision 29
  • Construction
  • Public Administration and Safety
  • All Other Industries.

All Other Industries consists of:
  • Wholesale Trade
  • Retail trade
  • Accommodation and Food Services
  • Transport, Postal and Warehousing
  • Information Media and Telecommunications
  • Financial and Insurance Services
  • Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services
  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Administrative and Support Services
  • Education and Training
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Arts and Recreation Services
  • Other Services.

Data Sources

The estimates contained in this publication are drawn from a range of data sources, including:
  • Non-ABS sources:
    • The National Waste Report, Blue Environment Consulting, funded by DoEE
    • E-waste - national figures modelled by Blue Environment Consulting.


Physical supply (generation) of waste

The NWR presents physical waste data for each waste type at state/territory level, for the waste generation streams: Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), Commercial and Industrial (C&I) and Construction and Demolition (C&D).

Data in the NWR were not complete for each waste type in each waste category. Where the data sources were not available for a given waste fate or state/territory, estimates were derived using the proportions from the available data. The level of imputation varies between product type, depending on available data. All product types sum to respective group totals. State/territory data was then aggregated to national level.

Waste generation by Households

The MSW stream was used to estimate household waste. MSW includes waste collected directly (e.g. kerbside collections of recycling and waste to landfill) and indirectly (e.g. householder drop off at transfer stations, householder self-haul to landfill) from households. It also includes a small portion of C&I waste where local governments provide (directly or indirectly) a collection service that covers businesses and households.

Waste generation by Industry

The Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables (Product Details), 2015-16 (cat. no. 5215.0.55.001) were used to allocate waste generated to industries, with the exception of the Construction industry. In these tables, each product balance describes the supply (domestic output and imports) and the use (intermediate consumption and final demand) of the product at a detailed level. The intermediate use of specific products were aggregated to certain waste flow categories for specific industries listed above. This assumes that intermediate use of a product is proportionate to waste generation in the material type of that product. For example, higher intermediate use of clay bricks by an industry results in higher waste generation of bricks by that industry. For the Construction industry C&D data was used directly from the NWR.

Physical waste use (management)

The NWR presents physical waste data for each waste fate (use by the Waste Management Industry): Landfill, Recycling, Energy Recovery, Treatment, Other Disposal. These are presented at state-level for each waste generation stream. These streams and states were aggregated to the national level, to represent total physical volumes of each waste type, sent to each waste fate.

Product supply in the Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables, 2016-17 (cat. no. 5209.0.55.001) for supply of the product Input-Output Product Classification (IOPC) 2901 (Waste Collection, Treatable and Disposal Services) was used to calculate the proportion of Waste Services supplied by all industries. The totals in the NWR for each waste fate were allocated across industry according to these proportions.

It is understood that waste management services (such as recycling) occur within industries other than those identified here, however income for these services are not currently identifiable.

Several assumptions were made in this process:
  • That the Construction industry does not engage in energy recovery through waste;
  • That Households have no use of waste products;
  • That the Mining industry has no use of waste products. This is based on research indicating that most of the income Mining receives from the product Input-Output Product Classification 2901 (Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services) is from land reclamation and the treatment of mining waste, rather than the use of the waste products.

The waste fates are split out under the Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services industry (ANZSIC subdivision 29) in the Physical Use table. For all other industries in this table, all waste fates are combined and represented by a single figure for the physical use of waste.

E-waste physical supply and use

The NWR does not provide detailed data on e-waste. Instead these data were provided by Blue Environment Consulting using models for national e-waste supply and use. This was provided as generation by households and all industry. Industry was disaggregated into each industry group, using intermediate use of electronic products in Australian National Accounts: Input-Output Tables (Product Details), 2015-16 (cat. no. 5215.0.55.001). As with the main Physical Supply and Use tables, it was assumed that high intermediate use of an electronic product by an industry indicated proportionately high generation of e-waste.

E-waste tables only refer to domestic supply and use. Data in these tables are included in the main Physical Supply and Use tables under the respective waste categories and not separately as 'e-waste'.

Waste Import and Exports

Imports and exports of waste products are components of the Physical Supply and Use tables. Imports and exports classified as waste were identified by using Australian Harmonized Export Commodity Classification (AHECC) and Harmonised Tariff Item Statistical Classification (HTISC) and were based on a reference list used by ABS to provide monthly waste export data to DoEE. These reference codes are used to calculate amount of waste (physical and monetary) entering and exiting Australia.

Export data were subtracted from recycling totals for use by the Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services industry. It is understood that some waste exports may occur outside of what is managed by the Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services industry (i.e. prior to collection) and thus would not be fully represented in the NWR. Therefore when exports were greater than recycling totals, it was assumed 100% of the recycling stream for that material is exported and the additional tonnage was added to the Supply table totals.

Import data is additional to what is reported in the NWR. Import codes (HTISC) were concorded with IOPC codes. In the Physical Use table, use of imported non-hazardous waste was allocated to industries using the proportions of intermediate use of the various IOPCs by industry, as presented in the Australian National Accounts: Input-Output tables, 2015-16 (cat. no. 5209.055.001), with the exception of the Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services industry. It was assumed the Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services industry does not import non-hazardous waste products, and that it is the only industry that imports hazardous waste products.

Monetary Supply and Use

The Monetary Supply and Use tables present time-series data from ABS Supply-Use tables for Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services (IOPC 2901) for industry groups in basic and purchasers' prices. Both supply and use of Waste services by industry and household for the period 2007-08 to 2016-17 are published. This IOPC includes the provision of services and income from the sale of recyclate. It is currently not possible to split waste management services from the sale of the recyclate.

Summary and Key Indicators

The Waste Summary, by Industry table, includes expenditure on waste services, waste generation and waste intensity, across key industries. Total waste generation is given in tonnes and Gross Value Added (GVA) in $m for 2016-17. Waste intensity is then calculated for each industry as waste generation divided by GVA (t / $m).

Key statistics for the Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services industry (ANZSIC subdivsion 29), including employment figures, compensation of employees, gross operating surplus and GVA for the 2007-08 to 2016-17 financial year are presented. This data is from Australian Industry, 2017-18 (cat. no. 8155.0) and Australian National Accounts: Supply Use Tables, 2016-17 (cat. no. 5217.0).