Author: Becca Campbell
The latest National Waste Report released by the Department of Environment and Energy in November last year provides a number of insights into the waste and recycling industry in Australia. The report, which is produced once every two years, exists to uncover how much waste Australians are generating and how the industry manages that.
Firstly, the overall numbers at a glance. Australians generated an estimated 67 million tonnes (Mt) of waste across all waste categories in 2016-2017, of which we successfully recycled 58%. Over an 11-year timeframe since the first National Waste Report, the quantity of total waste produced in Australia has increased with the population, but the good news is waste generation per capita waste declined by 10% and recycling rates increased.
This trend is expected to continue as awareness of waste and recycling issues increases amongst Australians. Looking internationally, Australia remains around average in terms of recycling for a developed nation with Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland having higher recycling rates.
While most Australians think of waste in terms of the kerbside bins they put out every week, three-quarters our waste is actually generated by the commercial and industrial (C&I) and construction and demolition (C&D) sectors. Media reports often forget about the C&I waste generated by businesses.
Items in this material category are comprised of masonry materials, metals, glass, plastics, organics, textiles, hazardous materials, and other mixed materials. The products of mining, and agriculture also contribute to this group. The category remains a major concern as 40% of this waste ended up in landfill, however it should be noted that overall C&I waste generation decreased by 8 percent.
In a further positive, the volume C&I materials being recycled grew the most out of all the recycling streams, rising by 34 percent. Recycling rates of masonry, such as bricks and concrete, increased by 11 percent, while paper and cardboard recycling rates also improved by 6 percent.
The important takeaway message from all this data is that Australian businesses are doing better with their waste now than ever before, but there is still plenty of work to do. No matter what stage of the waste journey your workplace is in, Planet Ark can provide important resources to help reduce your impact.
Becca joined the Planet Ark team as a marketing communications intern in March 2019. She currently studies at Boston University, pursuing Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Marine Science. With a passion for ocean conservation, she hopes to cast an optimistic light on impactful environmental actions.
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