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New South Wales State of the Environment
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Human Settlement

SoE 2009 > Human Settlement > 3.4 Waste management

Chapter 3: Human Settlement

3.4 Waste management

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Human Settlement

3.4 Waste management

Recycling across New South Wales increased from 46% in 2004–05 to 52% in 2006–07. The Sydney Metropolitan Area's waste disposal rate per person has been relatively constant for the five years from 2003–04 to 2007–08, and remains below 2000 levels. The waste disposal rate per person in regional areas has increased since 2000 by nearly 20%.

Although the population across the Sydney Metropolitan Area has increased substantially, growth in overall recycling rates and a slight ongoing reduction in the waste disposal rate per person has meant that total waste disposal for Sydney has been relatively constant for the five years from 2003–04 to 2007–08.

In contrast, both the waste disposal rate per person and the total amount of waste disposed of in the Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra regions continue to rise, although disposal rates are still marginally lower than in Sydney. This continued increase is despite ongoing expansion of waste recycling, with these areas having higher overall recycling rates than those in Sydney.

Domestic kerbside recycling continues to be well supported, with the Sydney Metropolitan Area maintaining a recycling rate of over 100 kilograms per person per year since 2004–05. The Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra regions are also performing well, with rates approaching those for Sydney at over 96 kg/ person/ year.

Avoiding the creation of waste remains the best strategy for dealing with the problems that resource consumption and waste generation create. The major objectives of the NSW Government's waste strategy include waste minimisation and recycling.

Recycling more commercial and industrial waste is critical to achieving the Government's Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy targets. These waste streams continue to offer the greatest opportunities for diverting more material to recycling, with paper, cardboard, food and plastics being the highest priorities.

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NSW indicators

Indicator and status


Information availability

Total and per person solid waste disposal



Total and per person solid waste recycled



Notes: Terms and symbols used above are defined in About SoE 2009 at the front of the report.

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Australia is reported to be the third-highest generator of waste in the OECD countries (ABS 2007b, p.568). In NSW waste disposal was about 1100 kilograms per person in 2007–08.

Waste is generally defined as any product or substance that has no further use and which is, or will be, discarded. It is what is thrown away because it is no longer needed or wanted and is a by-product of almost every human activity.

Generally, there are three distinct waste streams:

  • municipal waste, which includes domestic and other council waste and predominantly consists of putrescible materials, such as paper, and garden and kitchen waste
  • construction and demolition (C&D) waste, which is mostly inert materials such as timber, bricks, plaster off-cuts, concrete, rubble, steel and excavated earth
  • commercial and industrial (C&I) waste, which contains relatively higher proportions of metals, plastics and timber than other forms of waste.

Hazardous waste is another waste stream which is smaller in quantity and cannot be disposed of to landfill untreated. It encompasses a broad range of material which, if incorrectly handled, presents a threat to health and the environment. Hazardous waste includes spent chemicals, processing residues, contaminated raw materials, soil contaminated with chemicals, by-products from manufacturing and waste treatment, and unwanted (expired or damaged) raw materials.

In NSW, waste disposal and resource recovery is measured regionally (see section 4 of the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2005) through the:

The generation and improper disposal of waste can cause air and water pollution, land contamination and the loss of land which is used for landfill sites. The extent and nature of environmental or health threats from waste depend on the type of waste and the way it is managed.

Just over half the solid waste generated in NSW is recycled, and most of the remainder is managed by disposal in landfills. Good waste management practices at landfill sites are necessary to prevent contamination of land and pollution of surface and groundwater through the leaching of chemicals and heavy metals from industrial and household chemicals and consumer electronic products. Landfill sites also generate methane, a major greenhouse gas, which can be captured and used to generate power (see also Climate Change 2.2).

The generation and disposal of waste is an environmental issue of increasing importance. Waste disposal reflects inherently unsustainable patterns of resource use. Minimising waste through more efficient production and increasing reuse and recycling of materials is an important objective of the NSW Government.

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Status and trends

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Waste disposal rates and trends

The 2000 calendar year is the base year against which the targets of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy are measured. Subsequent years are reported as financial years to facilitate more accurate calculation of the relationship between waste disposal and other parameters for which data is available only on a financial year basis, such as population and economic growth.

The overall waste disposal rate for both the SMA and ERA have been fairly constant since 2000 (Figure 3.22). There has, however, been a slight increase in the ERA's disposal rate, especially since 2005–06. Data for 2007–08 shows that waste disposal in the SMA was 124 kilograms per person less than in 2000, while in the ERA it increased by 170 kg/person.

There has been an increase since 2000 in the disposal of municipal and C&D waste in the ERA by about 66,000 tonnes and 198,000 tonnes, respectively. The data for the SMA shows a slight decrease in municipal waste disposal (by about 166,000 tonnes) since 2000 due to increases in recycling and resource recovery. Population and C&D waste increases have mostly offset any reduction in disposal rates from municipal and C&I waste streams.

For the NRA, the total amount of waste disposed of is similar to that in the ERA of about 2.8 million tonnes in 2006–07. As the ERA and NRA have similar populations, the total amount of waste disposed of per person across the two regions is also similar: about 0.95 tonnes per person per year in 2006–07 (DECC 2009b).

Figure 3.22: Waste disposal rates by waste stream and waste disposal per person, SMA and ERA, 2000 to 2007–08

Figure 3.22

Download Data

Source: DECC data October 2008

Hazardous waste

Presently, non-liquid hazardous waste must be treated to remove or reduce the waste's hazardous properties prior to disposal to landfill. Certain hazardous waste may be recycled for reuse or resource recovery. As a last resort, hazardous waste may be treated to render its toxic or hazardous components immobile with the Environment Protection Authority granting a specific immobilisation approval to facilitate landfill disposal of the treated waste. Liquid hazardous waste must be treated at a licensed facility.

The handling, transport, storage and treatment of hazardous waste are regulated by licensing. The movement of such waste off-site must be tracked under the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) on-line waste tracking system. In addition, if the hazardous waste is conveyed to or from another state, the waste must also be tracked under the National Environment Protection (Movement of Controlled Waste Between States and Territories) Measure.

In 2006–07, approximately 83,690 tonnes of controlled waste tracked into NSW, which was the highest amount of waste moved in Australia.

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Virgin excavated natural material

Virgin excavated natural material is material such as clay, gravel, sand, soil and rock that has been excavated from areas that are not contaminated, as the result of industrial, commercial, mining or agricultural activities and which is not mixed with any other waste or contaminated with manufactured chemicals. Such material that is disposed of to landfill is subject to the same landfill disposal levy as general waste, with the exception of material used for a select number of approved landfill management practices, such as final capping, landfill lining and pond filling. Reported quantities of virgin extracted natural material may fluctuate from year to year as it is affected by changes in landfill management requirements and tonnages have not been included in the waste disposal data.

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Recycling rates

For NSW as a whole, 52% of total waste (15.4 million tonnes) was recycled in 2006–07, up from 46% in 2004–05. In 2006–07, 38% of municipal waste, 44% of commercial waste and 67% of construction waste was recycled. This amounts to more than 2.1 million extra tonnes of material being recycled since 2004–05. The greatest change was in the amount of C&D waste recycled in NSW with an increase of 1.1 million tonnes (6%) over the period. Municipal recycling also went up to over 600,000 tonnes (4%) and C&I recycling increased almost 400,000 tonnes (6%) (DECC 2009b).

Table 3.3 shows waste stream recycling performance for the SMA and ERA. In 2006–07, Sydney recycled 54% of its waste, up from 49% recycled in 2004–05. The rest (4.52 million tonnes) mainly went to landfill. A small amount, around 50,000 tonnes, was diverted to a number of alternative waste treatment facilities that have commenced operation across Sydney. In Sydney, recycling of municipal waste went up by 4% between 2004–05 and 2006–07 to 41%. Commercial waste recycling rose by 7% to 42% and, reversing the trend from the previous period, construction waste recycling also increased, up by 4% to 70%.

The ERA also improved its recycling. In 2006–07, these regions recycled 56% of their waste, up by 6% from 2004–05. The recycling rate for municipal waste jumped by 7% to 40% and construction waste recycling increased by 7% to 72%. Offsetting this improved recycling performance, less commercial waste was recycled – only 48% in 2006–07 compared with 53% in 2004–05.

Table 3.3: Recycling performance by waste stream and recycling, SMA and ERA, selected years

Financial year


Waste recycling (tonnes/year)

Waste recycled (kg/person/year)

Waste recycled (% total waste from region)

Municipal waste

Commercial and industrial waste

Construction and demolition waste








































Source: DECC data March 2009

Notes: Does not include waste diverted to an 'alternative waste technology' facility.

Recycle and disposal rates per person for key regions and the whole of NSW in 2004–05 and 2006–07 show that there was a greater proportion of waste being recycled, although more waste was generated in 2006–07 than in 2004–05 across the state.

For the NRA, the total amount of waste recycled per person is improving, with about 0.66 tonnes per person per year in 2006–07, but this is still only about half that for the SMA and ERA (DECC 2009b).

Dry recyclables

Kerbside collections for dry recyclables, which include newsprint, cardboard, paper, and food and beverage containers, are provided by 119 councils across NSW. This is a 19% increase since 2000. Overall quantity collected continues to grow, up from 450,000 tonnes in 2000–01 to 661,474 tonnes in 2006–07. Mobile garbage bins are the most common collection system (up from 50% of councils in 2001 to 81% in 2006–07). In 2006–07, 73 out of the 119 councils offering a kerbside recycling system used the Government's preferred collection systems for dry recyclables (240-litre fully commingled mobile garbage bin or two 120 L mobile garbage bins, one for paper and one for containers).

In 2007–08, each person in Sydney on average set aside approximately 107 kg of material for recycling compared with 88 kg in 2000–01 (Figure 3.23) (DECC 2009b). Recovery per household now averages 290 kg per year. The ERA is also performing well, with rates approaching those in Sydney at 96.5 kg per person per year.

Figure 3.23: Annual kerbside collections for dry recyclables, SMA and ERA, 2000–01 to 2007–08

Figure 3.23

Download Data

Source: DECC 2009b

Notes: * DECCW data 2009

The amount of dry recyclables collected from kerbside recycling in the ERA has increased by 40% since 2000–01, a reflection of the substantial increase in the provision of recycling services.

On average in 2007–08, each NSW resident recycled:

  • 61.6 kg of paper and paper products
  • 25.4 kg of glass
  • 5.6 kg of plastic
  • 2.3 kg of steel cans
  • 0.98 kg of aluminium cans.

These figures are for recyclables after contaminants were removed (derived from EPHC 2008, Appendix 6, Annex 2, pp.305 and 307).

Organics recycling

Sixty-eight per cent of garden organics ('green waste') across the SMA and ERA is now collected and recycled (Table 3.4). This is an increase of 12% since 2004–05 (DECC 2009b).

Table 3.4: Amount of garden organics recycled in the SMA and ERA combined


Total generated (tonnes)

Total recycled (tonnes)

Total recycled (%)

















Source: DECC 2009b

Other results relating to the recycling of organics include:

  • 55 councils providing a garden organics collection service in NSW in 2006–07 compared with 44 in 2004–05 and 31 out of 38 Sydney councils offering a kerbside service in 2006–07
  • a 9% increase in the amount of organic material recycled from kerbside collections between 2005–06 and 2006–07
  • an increase in the amount of garden organic material being recovered per household from around 94 kg in 2004–05 to around 119 kg in 2006–07
  • growth of markets for recycled organics averaging about 7% between June 2002 and June 2007.

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Economic growth and population demographics are linked to growth in waste production per person (for example, ABS 2007c). In Australia, growth in waste generation per person is driven by population demographics and economic factors. Australians are tending to live in smaller household groups, with increases in both the ownership of more durable goods per person and the consumption of goods that have higher packaging-to-product ratios (ABS 2007c). Municipal waste generation is mainly affected by population changes whereas C&D and C&I waste generation rates are strongly linked to economic conditions.

In addition, between 2006–07 and 2007–08, waste disposed of to landfill increased by an estimated 250,000 tonnes because of larger volumes going to landfill rather than being illegally dumped (DECC 2008c).

Discarded electronic or electrical devices (e-waste) comprise one of the fastest growing waste types in the world. Australians are among the highest users of new technology and with the constant drive to have the latest products comes an inevitable growth of superseded products. Very little of the increasing amount of electrical and electronic equipment in Australia is being recycled, with most of it ending up in landfill, representing a significant loss of non-renewable resources.

Components of e-waste contain heavy metals and are regarded as hazardous waste under international treaties. NSW has no facilities to reprocess these wastes. In 2009 the Australian Government granted export permits under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 to two NSW waste management companies to export 5000 tonnes of e-waste consisting of waste electrical and electronics scrap and glass from computer monitors to overseas facilities for resource recovery.

Increasing the recycling of e-waste and other waste streams, such as materials from the commercial and industrial sector, will lead to benefits which include decreasing the need to extract raw materials, and reducing the demand for landfill and the amount of energy and water used in manufacturing.

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Where the creation of waste is unavoidable, responses to deal with waste and the problems it creates include:

  • reducing waste going to landfill by diverting it to recycling or resource recovery facilities
  • encouraging the development of new waste technology facilities that are more sustainable in their approach to waste management by extracting the highest possible resource value from the waste stream.

The main instrument for the NSW Government in its response to the issues surrounding waste management is detailed in the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2007 (DECC 2007a).

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Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy

The Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2007 is designed to provide a framework to achieve the Government's policy objectives of minimising environmental harm from waste generation to disposal, and conserving and maximising resource use.

The strategy's four key result areas are:

  • preventing and avoiding waste
  • increasing recovery and use of secondary materials
  • reducing toxicity in products and materials
  • reducing littering and illegal dumping.

Legislation and policy drivers

Changes to NSW waste legislation are designed to streamline waste licensing and regulation and better promote resource recovery. Amendments to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2005 took effect in April 2008. These changes, which followed consultation in 2007 with the waste industry and the broader community, are:

  • a streamlining of waste licensing with fewer and more appropriate categories
  • simplification of the waste classification system by changing the number and names of waste classes and wastes assigned to those classes
  • introducing resource recovery exemptions to recognise bona fide reuse of waste for land application (to improve soil quality) and thermal treatment (for use as an alternative fuel)
  • clarifying requirements for managing asbestos and clinical waste.

In 2008, the NSW Government reviewed the most effective economic tool it uses to drive waste reduction and increase recycling. As a result of the review, the Waste and Environment Levy is being increased for the SMA and the ERA by $10 per tonne per annum indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from 1 July 2009 until 2015–16. This $10 increase will replace the $7 per tonne increase previously scheduled for 1 July 2009. The levy will also be extended to cover Wollondilly and Blue Mountains local government areas, and coastal local government areas from the Hunter to the Queensland border. The levy rate in these new areas will start at $10 per tonne from 1 July 2009, with increases of $10 per tonne per annum, plus movements in the CPI, to apply from 1 July 2010 until 2015–16 (DECC 2009b). The levy will also provide revenue which will be used to fund new or expanded environmental programs in NSW, including payments to local government in the areas where the levy applies to reward waste reduction and help deliver improved waste services.

Analysis of the levy's impact shows that it has already encouraged more recycling, particularly for large tonnages. Progressive increases in the levy over the past few years have also assisted the recycling of organics by making the cost of recycling more competitive with landfill (Table 3.4). For example, recycling of garden organics in the Greater Sydney Region (SMA and ERA combined) has increased from 40% of the total organics generated in 1998 to 68% in 2006–07 (DECC 2009b).

Waste avoidance in NSW Government operations is being targeted through the NSW Government Sustainability Policy (DECC 2008b) (see also People and the Environment 1.3). The policy outlines how the Government will lead by example in sustainable water and energy use, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, waste and fleet management and sustainable purchasing. Part of this policy is the Waste Reduction and Purchasing Policy (WRAPP) which requires Government agencies to increase the proportion of materials with recycled content that they purchase while continuing to reduce waste and increase recycling. For example, from July 2008 quotes for printing new publications have been required to include at least one option of paper with recycled content, while by 2014 a minimum of 85% of all copy paper purchased by agencies must contain recycled content.

During 2007–08, the Audit Office of NSW determined that the Government's WRAPP initiative had achieved its intended outcome. It concluded that 'the public sector has reduced the proportion of waste going to landfill from 27% to 8% over the last six years, and has increased its use of recycled materials'. The Waste Reduction and Purchasing Policy (WRAPP): Progress Report 2008 provides further evidence that the NSW public sector is meeting or exceeding a number of the WRAPP targets (DECC 2008d).

The NSW Government is also a signatory to the National Packaging Covenant. This requires annual reporting against its action plan on programs and support provided to contribute to the covenant's recycling targets.

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Major programs and activities

Government programs have focused on opportunities to increase recycling in municipal, C&I and C&D waste streams. Some programs also support the growth of markets for products with recycled content.

Reducing and recycling municipal waste

Significant gains have been made in recovering municipal waste for recycling. Councils continue to play a key role in managing municipal waste and have the potential to influence other sectors through, for example, community education which promotes reuse in households through composting, and in business and construction activities.

In 2007–08, all 51 eligible councils in the SMA and ERA met the service performance requirements specified for Local Council Waste and Sustainability Improvement Payments. Councils have implemented earlier criteria relating to the provision of dry recyclable collection services for all single dwellings, the use of Australian Standard bin lid colours, and collection of data from audits of household waste bins. From June 2009, councils are required to put in place policies and procedures to ensure that all new multi-unit dwelling developments include dry recycling services, and that all new developments consider waste management and resource recovery during construction and demolition and incorporate facilities for ongoing waste separation and collection.

DECCW has continued to provide tools and information to support councils to improve waste services. Recent developments include:

Improvements in waste-wise purchasing for 45 NSW local governments are being delivered through the local government sustainable purchasing alliance Sustainable Choice.

During 2007–08, new guidelines were produced to provide councils and other organisations with an improved data management tool for the collection of consistent audit data that gives a comprehensive picture of household waste generation, resource recovery and the composition of a 'typical' household bin across NSW. The new Yearly Local Government Waste and Resource Recovery Data Return consolidates council reporting requirements for both the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure (related to the National Packaging Covenant) as well as reporting to the State Government.

Reducing and recovering commercial and industrial waste

There is a range of programs tackling the wide-ranging sources of commercial and industrial waste. Some projects work with individuals or businesses to support changes in practice at the point of generation (either reducing waste or producing cleaner, more useable waste streams). Others work at the system level, at points of collection or reprocessing, to increase the recovery of useable materials. Some projects work to provide guidance for generators of waste and reprocessors to ensure the best quality feedstock and recycled materials. Others focus on potential users of materials with recycled content to build demand by demonstrating performance and cost-competitiveness.

The NSW Government has in place several programs – such as Sustainability Advantage and Sustainability Compacts – designed to leverage the growing business interest in sustainability. These programs have a strong waste focus but they will often be delivered through broader sustainability projects, focusing on 'business value', such as reduced costs, improved reputation and productivity increases, and environmental gains (see also People and the Environment 1.3).

Reducing and recycling construction and demolition waste

Recycling of material from the C&D waste stream has been successful over recent years. This is because the materials involved are relatively easily separated at the source, and avoiding disposal represents huge cost savings due to their weight and volume.

Although disposal has been reduced significantly in this stream, recent audits indicate that substantial quantities of some materials are still being disposed of. Timber is a major component of C&D and C&I waste streams. For both these streams the lack of a system to easily identify and remove non-recyclable timbers, such as those that have been treated, from readily reusable material is a major barrier to increased recovery of used timber.

DECCW has undertaken a comprehensive timber market analysis that has identified and predicted demand for waste timber until 2014, and this will be used to guide policy and programs aimed at capturing and diverting more waste timber into beneficial applications.

Product stewardship and extended producer responsibility programs

Product stewardship and extended producer responsibility initiatives are aimed at producers taking greater physical or financial responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products throughout the product life cycle. This includes choice of materials, product design and impacts during use, and disposal at the product's end of life.

Extended Producer Responsibility Priority Statements (updated every 1–2 years) detail whole-of-supply chain monitoring, reporting and product stewardship initiatives. NSW has provided the lead in the development of national regulatory impact statements, research and economic modelling relating to individual electrical product wastes, and continues to support other national processes aimed at achieving product stewardship outcomes (DECC 2009b).

Some of the direct activities and results from these initiatives include (DECC 2009b):

  • increased recovery of post-consumer PVC pipes, leading to greater market demand for recycled PVC
  • development of a voluntary recycling standard for televisions
  • participation in national processes for improving management of used tyres, televisions and computers, and plastic bags
  • supporting the timber industry to develop a commitment to double diversion of waste timber from landfill to 65% (equating to about 1 million tonnes per annum)
  • working with federal and state governments to analyse options, including container deposit legislation, for packaging waste.

Working with communities

Support for community education and information on waste and recycling is focusing on education to:

  • raise the profile of education and its role in waste minimisation and management in industry, government and the community
  • identify and promote education strategies, including improved program design, measurement of outcomes and linking education on waste with other sustainability issues
  • ensure continuity of education about waste management
  • promote knowledge and resource sharing by waste educators.

Since 2004, DECCW has been working in partnership with the Department of Education and Training to assist all schools in NSW to move towards sustainability through Sustainable Schools NSW (see also People and the Environment 1.5). DECCW also continues to work with ethnic communities through the Ethnic Communities' Council of NSW to deliver targeted sustainable living workshops and field trips, as well as capacity building for councils and other organisations. A guideline, Working with Ethnic Communities to Sustain our Environment (ECC & DEC 2005), has been developed, as well as training and community contacts.

DECCW has also been supporting work by Aboriginal communities around waste and litter. The Aboriginal Lands Clean-Up Program supports Aboriginal communities to tackle this environmental, cultural and community issue and includes the development of a handbook (DECC 2008f) and summary DVD to support Aboriginal people in Caring for Country (see also DECC 2009b).

Household chemical wastes

Household Chemical CleanOut is a free service provided by DECCW to collect and safely dispose of, recycle or reuse a range of common household chemicals throughout the SMA and ERA. The program helps to reduce community and environmental exposure to chemicals and the toxicity of the waste stream (DECC 2009b). In 2007–08, approximately 23,000 households across the SMA and ERA surrendered 762 tonnes of hazardous materials, a 20% increase on the 2006–07 CleanOut results. Currently, paints, oils and lead-acid batteries comprise 82% of the total materials which have been collected over the duration of the program.

Support for regional waste groups: DECCW provides funding and coordination support to eight voluntary regional waste groups which cover 90% of rural and regional NSW. Working with member councils, these groups are achieving changes in approaches, technologies and actions that make better use of resources and minimise waste to landfill. Collaborative, cross-regional approaches provide opportunities to share resources and knowledge, coordinate planning and resolve issues cooperatively (DECC 2009b).

The eight voluntary regional waste groups have completed their 2006–07 to 2008–09 plans. Some examples of the results this collaborative approach has delivered include:

  • increased resource recovery through regional collection contracts – in 2007–08, over 25,500 tonnes of scrap metal was recycled; close to 345,000 farm drums were recovered; over 222,800 litres of used oil and more than 247,150 cubic metres of organic waste was recycled; and over 104 tonnes of household chemical waste was safely disposed of
  • development of benchmarks, profiles and standards so that councils can estimate the amount and composition of waste that is likely to be produced by each community
  • coordination of a subregional tendering process for kerbside waste, recycling and organics collections by the Northern Inland Regional Waste Group, resulting in the extension of recycling services into new areas around Tamworth, Liverpool Plains and Gunnedah, three of the group's member councils.

The groups have submitted their three-year plans for 2009–10 to 2011–12, aimed at consolidating regional municipal waste management infrastructure through more shared arrangements, integrated management planning for organics processing and reuse within the regions, waste reduction and management planning with local businesses, and a greater focus on sustainability, recognising the links between waste management and greenhouse gas emissions.

Collectively, the voluntary regional waste groups have formed Renew NSW (Regional Networks for Effective Waste Management) which has developed a Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategic Plan, in consultation with its member councils.

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Future directions

The need to maximise conservation of natural resources and minimise environmental harm from waste management and disposal are the main drivers behind the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2007. Meeting the targets outlined in the strategy requires ongoing efforts by individuals, organisations and agencies in each region and industry sector.

Waste must continue to be tackled across the whole life cycle of goods and materials, including extraction, manufacturing, distribution, consumption and recovery for reprocessing or disposal. Ways to avoid and prevent waste need to be considered at every step in this cycle with a focus on those parts of the chain where the outcomes will be optimum.

The programs described in this section will continue, as will support for market development for products containing recycled materials. Examples include the use of recycled materials, such as glass fines (crushed glass) in asphalt, and recycled organics to stop erosion along roadsides and reduce water use in parks and gardens. Successful waste reduction and resource recovery rely on suppliers being able to reliably deliver quality recycled materials and healthy markets for the materials being developed and maintained.

There are three key areas where greater effort will be needed over the next few years, based on current performance against NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2007 targets.

Improving recycling of waste from commercial and industrial sources: This waste stream is generated by a wide range of organisations, including business, industry, government agencies, shopping centres, institutions such as hospitals and universities, and recreational facilities.

Almost half of the waste (over 2 million tonnes) that Sydney sends to landfill comes from this waste stream and, as shown by the recent DECCW audit, there are still significant amounts of recyclable material being thrown away. Of particular concern is:

  • the large amount of food waste and products not up to specification being disposed of daily by hospitality companies and manufacturers, wasting both resources and money – DECCW will increase its efforts on this issue through its business programs
  • thousands of tonnes of single use pallets still going to landfill each day despite considerable progress by some manufacturing sectors to introduce reuseable transport packaging – opportunities are available to use supply chain influences to change poor practice, combined with further work by the timber sector to encourage more recycling
  • substantial amounts of cardboard being thrown away despite improved availability of better recycling systems – DECCW will continue to seek ways to improve the recycling rates for this waste stream through support for infrastructure and system improvements.

Tackling waste avoidance and sustainable consumption: Total waste generated continues to grow in NSW even though the community is recycling much more. While this is a global trend, DECCW is developing some dedicated programs to tackle this problem, focusing on getting greater value from what we buy and using resources more wisely. This will also save money.

Helping households to recycle even more: Despite their good recycling performance, audits show that there is still a large amount, more than 820,000 tonnes, of potentially recyclable material being put in household garbage bins. This is made up of over 400,000 tonnes of food, 150,000 tonnes of other organics and over 260,000 tonnes of dry materials (paper and containers). There is clearly an opportunity to improve performance by working with key stakeholders, such as local councils, to encourage householders to recycle more material.

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