Each financial year, the EPA collects data under legislation through the NSW EPA’s Waste and Resource Reporting Portal (WARRP). The introduction of online reporting through WARRP in 2015, in addition to regulation reform that mandated the majority of resource recovery facilities to report waste flows into WARRP, replaced the use of voluntary surveys to estimate waste generation and recycling performance. This new method has significantly improved the quality of data collected and published by NSW.
The purpose of the data is to track NSW’s performance on improving waste outcomes including reducing waste generation and increasing recycling by diverting tonnes from landfill. To provide confidence in the data and ensure ongoing quality of the dataset, the EPA implements a number of controls outlined in the 2018-19 Data quality statement.
What does the data say about waste performance?
Waste generation in NSW
Between 2015-16 and 2018-19, total waste generated per capita rose from 2.42 tonnes to 2.75 tonnes. This was primarily due to increased construction activity (1.32 tonnes to 1.65 tonnes per capita), with Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste generation per capita remaining relatively unchanged during this period. Figure 1 shows the waste generation per capita, in total and across the three waste streams for the 2015-16 to 2018-19 financial years.
In 2018-19, more than 22 million tonnes of waste was generated. The majority of this waste originated from construction and demolition (C&D) activities. Figure 2 shows the tonnes of waste generated, by waste stream for the 2015-16 to 2018-19 financial years.
Figure 3 shows the tonnages of each waste stream and portion of each stream that is recycled and disposed. The Figure also clearly shows the increase in the C&D waste stream across 2015-16 to 2018-19 and the high portion of this stream that is recycled.
NSW recycling performance
The overall waste recycling rate for NSW remained at 65%, driven largely by a strong recycling rate of 77% achieved in the construction industry during 2018-19. Total tonnes diverted has steadily increased whereas tonnes disposed has remained relatively level.
Figure 4 shows that recycling rates have improved slightly for MSW from 42% to 43% and increased from 47% to 53% for Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste. C&D recycling rates remain strong, however relatively unchanged over the four-year period.
Figure 5 shows the waste recycled, by waste type and waste stream for the 2018-2019 reporting period.
NSW waste diversion from landfill
In 2018-19, the total waste diverted from landfill was 65% representing 14.6 million tonnes. Figure 6 shows the total tonnes recycled and disposed from 2015-16 to 2018-19. Although the diversion rate did not change between 2017-18 and 2018-19, the tonnes diverted from landfill increased by 5%. As no significant energy from waste facilities were operational across the four reporting periods, the diversion rate is the same as the recycling rate referred to above.