1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2008   
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Contents >> Environment >> Waste and recycling practices of households


Australia's growing economy and its increasing use of energy and other resources have brought prosperity and wellbeing to many Australians. However, as a result more waste is produced than ever before. In recent decades, there has been a large increase in the number and diversity of products available to Australian consumers. Associated with this has been an increase in waste diversity, toxicity and complexity. Electronic waste - e-waste - is one of the fastest growing types of waste. Each year, Australians buy more than 2.4 million (mill.) personal computers and 1 mill. televisions. As we buy more electronic products, the stockpile of used, obsolete electronic products grows.

During the past ten years household recycling activities have increased extensively to become a widely accepted practice. In March 2006, almost all households (99%) in Australia recycled and/or reused at home (graph 2.1), compared with 91% of Australian households in March 1996.

2.1 Recycling/reuse of waste by households
Graph: 2.1 Recycling/reuse of waste by households

Household recycling is influenced by three main factors: the quantity or volume of recyclable material generated by a household; accessibility/availability of households to service facilities; and interest. The growth in recycling may be attributed to the provision of new and improved kerbside collection services (including increased collection frequency, better collection containers and a wider range of materials or products collected), extensive community education programs, higher landfill levies in many states and territories and the development of new and more stable markets for recycled materials.Household participation in recycling has increased for nearly all surveyed materials. This largely reflects the extent of recycling services or facilities available to households. For example, paper, plastic products and glass are predominantly the most recyclable materials in Australia because these are the materials recycled through the local kerbside recycling to which about 90% of households in Australia have access.

2.2 Waste items recycled/reused by households
Graph: 2.2 Waste items recycled/reused by households

Compared with 1996, paper products (including cardboard and newspapers) were the most commonly recycled material in Australia (graph 2.2). In the Australian Capital Territory, about 99% of households recycled paper, 97% in Victoria and 93% in New South Wales. Paper recycling was lowest in the Northern Territory (74%) but has nearly doubled since 1996 (39%). Significant increases in paper recycling were also noted in Tasmania (63% in 1996 to 86% in 2006), Victoria (77% to 97%) and Western Australia (68% to 85%). Glass and plastic bottles were the two next most frequently recycled materials (after paper), recycled by 90% of Australian households. Higher levels of recycling of these materials were reported in the Australian Capital Territory (98%), Victoria (96%) and New South Wales (91%). In South Australia, plastic bottles and glass were the two most commonly recycled waste materials, recycled by 92% and 91% of the State's households while paper products ranked fourth.

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