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CHAPTER 8 HOUSEHOLDS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Figure 8.1 illustrates intensity measures related to water use, energy use and GHG emissions for Australian households. Each intensity measure decreased between 2002-03 and 2010-11 ranging from a 4% decrease per capita in GHG emissions generation and energy consumption, to a 31% decrease in water use per capita over the 8 year period (note that GHG emissions figures are not available for 2010-11).
Water saving products for households, such as water-efficient shower heads and dual flush toilets, are now subject to rebate or swap schemes in most states and territories. Water saving device uptake is linked to changes in overall water consumption per capita in households and this is discussed in Chapter 2.
Figure 8.4 shows the changes over the period by state and territory for water efficient shower heads. The largest increase was seen in New South Wales with a 116% increase over the time period, while the smallest increase was seen in Western Australia with a 63% increase.
Figure 8.5 illustrates the increase in dual flush toilets in state and territory households in the reference period. The percentage of households with dual flush toilets became more even across states and territories, the range of percentages dropping by more than half from 28% in 1998 to 12% in 2010.
Figure 8.6 shows that mains electricity use inside households rose from just under 99% in 2005 to 99.8% in 2011. The use of solar energy by households in Australia rose more than for any other energy source, from 5% in 2005 to 11% in 2011. The federal government’s Solar Homes and Communities plan had been in place for five years to 2005 and was phased out in 2009 and was replaced by the Solar Credits scheme. The small-scale renewable energy scheme and feed-in tariffs are also currently available to households in Australia. The three years to 2008, the period under the Solar Homes and Communities plan, saw an increase from 5% to 8% of households using solar energy, while for the three years to 2011, the period including a combination of the Solar Homes and Communities plan and the current Solar Credits scheme, saw an increase from 8% to 11%.
The proportion of households using LPG/bottled gas increased from 12% in 2005 to over 17% of households reporting this as an energy source used inside the home in 2011. LPG/bottled gas is often used for cooking where mains natural gas is not available.
‘Other’ energy sources includes wood and oil, and their use is especially prevalent in Tasmania, where 39% of households reported using other energy sources in 2011.
Figure 8.7 shows that when making a clothes drier purchase, consideration was given to its energy efficiency in 53% of cases, the highest percentage among all appliances and an increase of 33% in 6 years.
Figure 8.8 shows a slow and consistent increase in the percentage of households recycling and reusing waste through the 10 years to 2010. This trend was reversed with a large decline in households that reuse waste, from 86% in 2009 to 73% in 2012 and by a smaller 1% drop in households that recycle. Figure 8.9 suggests a possible explanation for these recent falls.
Recycling rates for most waste types were either stable during the time period or slowly increasing. Plastic bag recycling rates dropped from 89% in 2009 to 85% in 2012, a three year period during which, three states and territories (SA, NT and ACT) introduced plastic bag bans. Fremantle, WA became the first local council to adopt a plastic ban early in 2013, while local councils in other states and the state government of Tasmania are currently assessing legislation to implement plastic bag bans. Data are not available for NT and ACT in 2012, but SA showed a large decrease in the proportion of households that reused or recycled plastic bags, from 86% down to 78%. The drop in plastic bag use, and subsequent reuse is a contributing factor in the overall drop in households that reuse any type of waste in 2012 as seen in figure 8.8.
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