According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in 2009-10 Australians sent 21.6 million tonnes of waste to landfill. For those of you that aren’t familiar with visualising a tonne, think of small truck load full and then multiply it by 21.6 million! It’s quite a bit of rubbish.
Waste management is an ongoing topic in Australian politics, and terms like ‘diversion rate’ and ‘recovery and reprocessing’ are populating the vernacular. That said, the Australian diversion rate, that is the amount of rubbish we diverted from landfill in 2009-10 still sits at under 50%, to be exact 42.6% (ABS, 2011).
Rubbish recycling overseas
While this is of course an increase on previous figures, it is a far cry from some of our international counterparts. For example, Sweden has been so successful in their recycling efforts that The Huffington Post has reported that only 4% of their rubbish goes into landfill. The remaining 96% is recycled or more recently being reused as fuel in their waste-to-energy facilities. This new technology incinerates waste to generate energy that powers Sweden’s electricity and heating, it’s a win / win situation. They divert their waste from landfill while at the same time generate sustainable energy, the only downside is that they don’t have enough rubbish to fuel these new facilities. Of course Sweden solved this problem quickly by charging neighbours like Norway to dispose of their waste, which would have otherwise ended up in landfill. It’s a dream scenario, they’re paid to take away the waste from Norway, so they not only generate income but also divert waste from landfill AND they get paid to convert the waste into power in Sweden. Clever.
Unfortunately the world’s largest generator of municipal waste, the United States of America (according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), is not as advanced as Sweden in its’ waste management. In 2010, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency reported that Americans recycled only 34 percent of their waste, resulting in more than half of their household waste ending up in landfills, or to be more specific, 136 million tonnes of rubbish were sent to landfill.
Toxic waste in Landfill Rubbish
Waste management or more commonly rubbish disposal is an issue that every country in the world faces, and one that is facing increasing scrutiny. Landfills have come under the spotlight for several issues, toxic waste contaminating the surrounding soil, air and water as well as the methane emissions generated from the decomposing rubbish. In addition, there appears to be a relative lack of management about what is disposed in landfill. The ABS reports that ‘during the 12 months to March 2012, 75% of Australian households disposed of at least one potentially hazardous household item’. The most common hazardous household item disposed of was the common battery, the large majority of households disposing of batteries admitted to throwing them out with the non-recyclable garbage, inevitably meaning they end up in Australian landfill.
Australian Rubbish Disposal Statistics
More positively, Australia has certainly increased recycling rates with the ABS reporting that ‘during the 12 months to March 2012, 98% of Australian households participated in some form of recycling or reuse of a range of household items’. But is this enough? According to 2002 figures from the OECD, Australians then generated 690kgs of waste per person per year, second only to the United States with 760kgs per person per year. For this apparent trend of over consumption and hence enormous waste generation did Australia invest into state of the art recycling to reverse the trend? or perhaps waste management alternatives? No, in 2010 we dumped 21.6 million tonnes of our rubbish into landfill, that’s now 968 kilograms for every man, woman and child in Australia every year.
1300 Rubbish has had 20 years of experience in the waste industry, we understand the issues facing the industry and the importance of recycling as much as possible. Equally, the importance of keeping hazardous materials out of our Australian landfills, our sister company 1800Ewaste, specialises in the collection and recycling of electronic waste, we recycle up to 98% of all collected equipment.
Please give us a call today on 1300 78 22 47 (local call) to discuss your rubbish collection or electronic waste recycling needs. We will be only too happy to provide you with an obligation free quote.