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CHAPTER 4 WASTE
The rest of this chapter outlines the physical and monetary flows of waste in Australia in 2009-10.
Physical flows of waste
Waste supply and use tables in the account present aggregates of all available physical data (tonnes) in terms of the supply and use of solid waste. Figure 4.2 illustrates the physical flows of waste in Australia.
Waste generation (supply)
Figure 4.2 shows that a total of 53.1 million tonnes of waste was generated in Australia in 2009-10, and a further 0.6 million tonnes was imported. The construction industry contributed the most waste to this total, at 16.5 million tonnes. Households were the next biggest contributor at 12.4 million tonnes, followed by services industries, generating 11.9 million tonnes.
Of this generated and imported waste, 24.9 million tonnes was disposed to landfill, while 25.2 million tonnes of waste was recovered domestically and 3.7 million tonnes was exported.
Other major contributions to total waste generation were paper and cardboard (6.4 million tonnes) and metals (5.1 million tonnes). Households contributed 45% of the paper and cardboard waste stream, and manufacturing was responsible for nearly half (49%) of the total metals waste stream.
The construction industry generated 16.5 million tonnes of waste in 2009-10, with 14.1 million tonnes of this being masonry waste. This includes both the waste from the construction of new structures, and the waste generated from pulling down, gutting or modifying existing structures. Households generated 12.4 million tonnes of waste in 2009-10, more than 70% of which was made up of organics (47%) and paper and cardboard waste (23%).
Services is a large and diverse group of industries, including accommodation, arts and recreation and finance and insurance. Masonry and organics are the top two waste types by tonnage, and they accounted for just under 60% of the total waste generated by the services group in 2009-10.
Waste management (use)
The most recovered type of waste by weight was timber and wood products, 91% of which was recovered. Other waste types that were recovered included glass (67%); masonry (55%); organics (48%); and paper and cardboard (47%).
Some waste types are considered to be too costly or difficult to recover and this was especially evident with inseparable/unknown waste, with nearly all of it being sent to landfill in 2009-10. 501,000 tonnes (or 88%) of leather and textiles were sent to landfill, along with 3 million tonnes (86%) of hazardous waste and 1.1 million tonnes (77%) of plastic waste. While more than half of all masonry waste was recovered, 8.8 million tonnes (45%) of masonry waste was sent to landfill, the largest tonnage of all waste types.
A higher percentage of metals (36%) and paper and cardboard (23%) waste types were exported while masonry; electrical and electronic; leather and textiles; and timber and wood products waste were not exported at all.
The waste management services industry processes the majority of Australian waste (60%), but industries outside of the waste management services industry also played a major role, and were responsible for disposing or recovering 34% of Australia’s waste in 2009-10. The remaining 7% of waste was exported. Of the 25 million tonnes of waste recovered domestically, 46% was recovered by businesses outside the waste management services industry.
Those waste types more likely to be processed outside the waste management services industry were (by weight) metals (44%); timber and wood products (44%); glass (39%); paper and cardboard (38%); masonry (37%) and organics (36%).
The above explores the physical supply (generation) of waste in Australia, and the use (management) of this waste. These physical flows also have accompanying monetary flows. A Waste Account for Australia also explores these related monetary flows, adding value to understanding the entire picture of waste generation and management in Australia.
In summary, monetary supply and use tables for waste show:
Businesses (and government) supply (provide) waste management services which are used (consumed) by other businesses, government and households. Waste management services include income from a range of services relating to waste management including collection, transport, recycling, treatment, processing or disposal of waste.
Monetary flows for waste are complicated by the fact that some waste has a positive value. When the owner/discarder of the waste material receives an income for the waste, these goods are termed a waste product. These waste products are also supplied to the economy.
Table 4.1 shows the value of both waste management services, and waste products, for Australia for 2009-10.
In contrast, of the total value of waste products (recyclable/recoverable material) supplied to the economy in 2009-10 ($4,582m), half of this amount was provided by non-waste management businesses (Figure 4.7).
Over 80% of waste products supplied by non-waste management businesses came from three industries - manufacturing ($723m); retail ($550m); and wholesale ($547m) (Figure 4.8).
Households spent $1.6 billion on waste management services which equates to $196 per household. Industry (including the waste management services industry) accounted for 83% of expenditure on waste management services in 2009-10 in Australia.
Overall, 70% of all expenditure on waste management services was spent on non-recyclable services, with the remaining 30% spent on recyclable services. The proportion spent on the two types of services varied by industry. The wholesale industry spent the highest proportion of their total waste management services expenditure (81%, $194 million) on non-recyclable services and the agriculture industry spent the highest proportion (60%, $34 million) on recyclable services.
1 The ABS defines the Waste Management Industry as those businesses whose primary activity is provision of waste services; some businesses with other primary activities (e.g. construction) also provide waste services <back
2 National Waste Policy 2010. Department of Sustainability Environment Water Population and Communities <back
3 Environment Protection and Heritage Council, 2010. National Waste Report. Online: http://www.ephc.gov.au/sites/default/files/WasteMgt_Nat_Waste_Report_FINAL_20_FullReport_201005_0.pdf <back
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