State of waste 2016 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; current and future Australian trends Mike Ritchie*
Australians now produce about 50 million tonnes of waste each year, averaging over two tonnes per person. There are more of us and we generate more waste per person, each year.
rom 1996 to 2015, our
to society compared to landfill. Generally,
population rose by 28%
metals, paper and cardboard and plastic
but waste generation in-
(in sufficient quantities) are commercially
creased by 170%. Waste
viable recyclables. Almost all other recycling
is growing at a compound
in Australia is subsidised by someone via
growth rate of 7.8%/year.
gate fees, grants or the like. That includes
On the positive side, recycling is growing
most household, construction and com-
at a faster rate, and since 2005 we have
mercial waste. Unfortunately, there is no
actually seen (for the first time) a decline
free lunch in recycling.
in tonnages of waste sent to landfill (in the
It is important to point out that it is the
most progressive states). We now recycle
proper role of state government to set waste
approximately 58% of all the waste we
policy and direction. Most governments have
generate and send the rest to landfill.
set targets of between 60â&#x20AC;&#x201C;90% diversion by 2020. Having done so, governments should
16 Sustainability Matters - Jun/Jul 2016
have the courage of their convictions and
Most governments have established recycling
put in place the mechanisms to permit the
targets to divert waste from landfill and
private sector and local governments to
to capture and recover materials for the
achieve those targets.
productive economy. Most readers know
It is way too easy to put out a strategy
that almost all recycling comes at a cost
with targets but then not bother to create