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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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Contents >> Chapter 24 - Environment >> Residential waste management in Australia

RESIDENTIAL WASTE MANAGEMENT IN AUSTRALIA

Resource consumption and outputs of waste are features of Australian society. The volume of waste generated is growing with the nation’s growing population and increasingly high standard of living. Without changes to consumption patterns these trends will continue.

In Australia, the majority (95%) of solid wastes, including hazardous waste, end up in landfills. Landfill sites have negative environmental impacts including: contamination of groundwater and soil from toxic waste leaching; methane release from organic waste decomposition; greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the transportation of waste to landfills; and foul smells and vermin (particularly if the landfill site is poorly managed). The utilisation of the waste minimisation hierarchy (i.e. reduce, re-use and recycle) reduces the need for landfill sites and lowers the environmental impact of these sites.

In 1992 a national target of 50% waste reduction by the year 2000 was adopted by the Australian and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council. Concurrently all state and territory governments set waste minimisation goals to meet or exceed national targets.

The proportion of households in Australia that recycle and/or re-use waste has increased from 91% in 1996 to 98% in 2003. In March 2003 about 95% of Australian households recycled waste, 83% re-used waste, while only 2% did not recycle or re-use at all (table 24.26). Households in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, and South Australia had the highest rates (99%) of recycling and/or re-using waste. The Northern Territory had the lowest rate of recycling and re-use at 93%.

24.26 RECYCLING/RE-USE OF WASTE IN HOUSEHOLDS

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT(a)
ACT
Aust.
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

MARCH 2003

Households that recycle waste
94.5
98.7
94.5
96.8
91.1
95.4
86.8
98.4
95.4
Households that re-use waste
79.5
81.2
87.9
86.6
83.3
86.8
76.4
88.2
82.8
Households not recycling and/or re-using waste
3.7
0.8
2.1
1.4
3.4
2.9
^7.3
^1.3
2.4

MARCH 2000

Households that recycle waste
93.6
97.3
94.0
93.7
89.4
91.9
86.0
99.3
94.2
Households that re-use waste
75.8
81.9
86.3
79.6
80.8
83.7
85.3
82.6
80.5
Households not recycling and/or re-using waste
4.1
1.4
2.3
3.2
5.6
4.7
8.8
0.5
3.2

MARCH 1996

Households that recycle waste
88.5
89.4
89.3
88.8
83.6
86.3
71.8
98.9
88.4
Households that re-use waste
32.3
32.0
45.2
42.6
36.8
41.9
54.9
40.9
36.5
Households not recycling and/or re-using waste
10.1
8.7
7.9
8.2
12.6
10.0
20.4
1.0
9.4

(a) Northern Territory data refers to main urban areas only.

Source: Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, 2003 (4602.0).


The most common items recycled and/or re-used by households in Australia in 2003 were: paper/cardboard (88.4%); plastic bottles (87.3%); plastic bags (86.5%); glass (85.2%); and old clothing or rags (82.4%). The results vary between states and territories (see table 24.27).

24.27 ITEMS RECYCLED AND/OR RE-USED IN HOUSEHOLDS - March 2003

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT(a)
ACT
Aust.
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Paper/cardboard
90.0
93.8
85.1
82.5
81.7
84.0
74.0
97.3
88.4
Glass
85.6
92.5
82.0
81.8
75.3
84.3
65.3
95.7
85.2
Aluminium cans
72.9
86.2
74.8
79.9
70.7
75.7
60.0
83.8
77.0
Steel cans
60.8
78.5
62.8
61.1
54.9
67.6
45.6
77.2
65.3
Plastic bottles
87.5
94.6
84.0
87.5
75.5
84.9
66.6
96.2
87.3
Plastic bags
83.9
87.2
89.0
88.9
85.6
87.5
78.1
92.4
86.5
Motor oil
11.0
9.5
16.2
11.7
10.7
14.1
12.1
18.0
11.8
Kitchen or food waste
41.2
50.9
48.3
46.8
46.5
61.3
40.6
55.3
46.7
Garden waste
60.3
66.3
60.8
65.7
50.3
65.2
51.6
71.7
61.6
Old clothing or rags
80.7
81.3
86.0
84.3
82.2
83.3
68.9
87.9
82.4

(a) Northern Territory data refers to main urban areas only.

Source: Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, 2003 (4602.0).


Household waste recycling occurred mostly through a regular kerbside collection service (87% of households) (table 24.28). This method was practised across Australia with the highest use of this method made in the Australian Capital Territory (97%) and Victoria (95%). Two-thirds (66%) of households in Australia recycled by taking some of their waste to central collection points. South Australian households (81%) practised this recycling method more than households in other states or territories, while households in the Northern Territory practised this method the least (52%).

24.28 METHODS USED TO RECYCLE AND/OR RE-USE WASTE - March 2003

NSW
Vic.
Qld
SA
WA
Tas.
NT(a)
ACT
Aust.
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%
%

Collection from the house
88.8
94.7
83.1
74.4
76.3
82.1
69.3
97.3
86.6
Special area/s at dump/waste transfer station
8.7
9.5
11.9
11.1
7.9
24.2
19.5
26.2
10.4
Central collection points(b)
67.2
58.2
67.1
80.5
66.1
61.4
52.8
75.1
65.8
Compost or mulch
45.0
51.9
56.2
48.3
43.2
58.5
49.6
60.4
49.6
Re-use within household
82.6
81.8
89.8
87.8
86.2
89.4
82.5
89.4
84.9
Other methods
12.3
13.1
11.6
13.1
11.6
17.3
15.5
12.7
12.5

(a) Northern Territory data refers to main urban areas only.
(b) Other than dump/waste transfer station.

Source: Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, 2003 (4602.0).


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