Reducing carbon emissions through better waste and material management

By making more efficient use of our resources, we reduce our carbon emissions.

We can do this by using less carbon-intensive materials in our buildings and products, reducing the amount of virgin material we consume by reusing and repairing products, recycling materials and recirculating the gas and energy generated by waste through our economy.

The NSW Government will implement a set of initiatives to drive carbon emissions reduction that will be supported by new grant programs and complementary regulation.

Our plan

We can reduce the amount of organic material going to landfill by collecting it separately and processing it at special organic waste facilities. Many councils already provide a separate bin to collect garden organics from households and some (less than a third) also collect food organics.

Other organic material, like textiles and timber, finds its way into household bins. To help achieve our targets of halving food waste to landfill and achieving net zero emissions from organics in landfill by 2030, we will require the separate collection of:

  • food and garden organics from all NSW households by 2030
  • food waste from targeted businesses and other entities that generate the highest volumes of food waste, including large supermarkets and hospitality businesses, by 2025.

We will consult with councils, businesses and service providers on the best way to transition to these new arrangements, as well as work with service providers to ramp up processing capacity.

To help with the transition, the NSW Government will invest $65 million over five years, starting from July 2022.

By designing our buildings, infrastructure, and products to consume fewer raw materials, be more durable and repairable and use more recycled content and recovered energy, we can reduce our carbon footprint.

By analysing the lifecycle costs and benefits of the materials we use, we can better assess their impact, not only on price and performance but on emissions and the broader environment. To help encourage the shift to circular design and reduce our carbon emissions, the NSW Government will establish a new $37 million Carbon Recycling and Abatement Fund. The fund will support innovative circular economy approaches that manage waste and materials more efficiently and reduce emissions.

As part of our NSW Plastics Action Plan, we will also establish a new $10 million Circular Materials Fund that will provide a financial incentive for producers to design out or replace carbon-emissions-intensive virgin plastic with lower-carbon-intensity recycled materials. This will help improve material efficiency, increase use of recycled content and deliver a measurable carbon saving for NSW.

We will continue support for our popular Bin Trim program, providing advisory services, rebates and grants for small and medium businesses to reduce waste and their carbon footprint.

We will also develop tools and guidance to promote circular design practices, including new circular design guidelines for buildings and infrastructure.

The NSW Government can use its purchasing power to stimulate circular economy innovation and demand for recycled content markets. We can reduce the environmental impacts of the materials we use by designing for durability and reuse, and by incorporating recycled content. This will also help create jobs in NSW, as recycling generates three times as many jobs as landfill disposal.

Building on our net zero commitments to reduce government carbon emissions, we will require NSW Government departments to preference products that contain recycled content, including building materials and office fit outs and supplies. Agencies will need to preference recycled content where there is no significant additional cost or negative impacts on performance and the environment.

Where there are gaps in cost and quality, we will work with industry to meet the increased demand for quality recycled material. Through the new $13 million Circular Innovation Fund, we will support research into new technologies and uses for recycled material and provide opportunities to pilot them in government projects.

To support purchasing decisions and the market response, we will publish a directory of recycled material suppliers, along with a register of upcoming government projects that will procure recycled material. We will also report annually on the use of recycled content by government agencies.

Methane from organic waste in landfill can be released for over 25 years. To reduce these harmful emissions, many landfills in NSW have put in place infrastructure to capture landfill gas for flaring or power generation. To minimise the impact of landfill gas emissions, the NSW Government will require:

  • landfill gas capture for landfills over a certain size and all expanded or new landfills, with exemptions in certain circumstances
  • net zero emissions for landfills that are subject to an environment protection licence by a prescribed timeframe.

To complement these regulatory measures, we will invest $7.5 million to support the installation of landfill gas capture infrastructure.