4602.0 - Hazardous waste out with garbage, 1996  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/02/1997   
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February 20, 1997
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)

Hazardous waste out with garbage

Recycling rates in Australia for glass, paper and cans are relatively high compared with other countries, but our performance in disposing of hazardous waste is cause for concern, according to survey data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Sixty-two per cent of households used their home garbage service as their main means of disposing of hazardous waste such as paints, garden chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Only 31 per cent of households knew of services available to specifically dispose of this material.

The ABS survey publication Environmental Issues, People's Views and Practices reported that recycling rates had risen between 1992 and 1996, with the proportion of households recycling paper rising from 55 per cent in 1992 to 75 per cent in 1996. The main reasons households did not recycle were a lack of recyclable materials (51 per cent), no services or facilities being available (23 per cent), and lack of interest by the household (14 per cent). A collection service from dwellings was the main method used to collect recyclable materials.

The survey also found that nearly 50 per cent of Australians felt the quality of the Australian environment had improved or stayed much the same over the past 10 years. The number of people who considered environmental protection to be as important as economic growth remained steady at around 70 per cent since with 1992.

Air pollution continued to be the environmental problem of greatest concern, although the number of people who reported environmental concerns about air quality decreased from 75 per cent in 1992 to 68 per cent in 1996.

Given that a major factor contributing to urban air pollution is the use of motor vehicles, use of vehicles was included in the survey.

It was found the main reason people did not use public transport to get to work or study was that there was no service available. About 20 per cent of the population said that they did not have access to any form of public transport. The bus was the main form of public transport most widely available. The majority of households who went on shopping trips used a car, truck or van as the principal form of transport (86 per cent). Of those who did not use public transport for these trips, most stated this was because they were unable to carry their shopping purchases (44 per cent) or there was no service available to them (37 per cent).

Details are available in Environmental Issues, People's Views and Practices,(cat no. 4602.0) available in all ABS bookshops.