Solid waste

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					                                                                   INDICATOR ► SOLID WASTE

Summary                                                                     What the results tell us
Within the ACT, waste is generated from domestic,                           about the ACT
building, commercial and industrial sources.                                Waste generated in the ACT and Queanbeyan is
In response to the initiatives of the ACT NOWaste                           disposed to landfills at Mugga Lane and (until
by 2010 Strategy and Queanbeyan City Council,                               May 2002) at West Belconnen.
volumes of waste disposed to landfill fell from over                        Excluding waste disposal associated with the
224,000 tonnes in 2000–01 to approximately                                  aftermath of the January 2003 bushfires, the
207,000 tonnes in 2002–03. At the same time,                                mass of waste disposed to landfill decreased by
recycling increased from over 354,000 tonnes in                             7.7% from 2000–01 to 2002–03, to 207,067
2000–01 to almost 467,000 tonnes in 2002–03.                                tonnes (see Table 1), a continued decreasing
Commercial and industrial waste to landfill                                 trend suggesting that the NOWaste by 2010
increased by 34% over the 2000–03 reporting                                 Strategy has impacted on waste disposal and
period, reversing the trend shown in the previous                           resource recovery practices in at least some
reporting period. Waste from other sources either                           sectors.
reduced or increased marginally over the three
years to 2002-03.                                                           Sectoral waste
Both the ACT Government and Queanbeyan City                                 Most of the decrease in waste to landfill was due
Council initiated more effective and efficient                              to the significant reduction (61%) in building and
kerbside collection services during the reporting                           demolition waste. Although data for land
period, and public education and recycling services                         development in Gungahlin in the early 1990s
promoted and supported recycling and reuse                                  indicate a close correlation between development
practices. Nevertheless, total waste generation per                         and the volume of building waste, this correlation
capita still increased. Waste auditing suggests that                        appears to have weakened in the current
some recyclable materials need to be targeted for                           reporting period. Despite new phases of
more efficient recovery.                                                    development in the ACT, the volume of building
                                                                            waste has been decreasing.
Increasing awareness of the environmental
impacts of landfills on soils, surface and                                  Waste from the commercial and industrial sector
groundwater will be enhanced by further                                     increased by a third from 2000–01 to 2002–03, to
monitoring and analysis to fill knowledge gaps                              reach its highest level since records began in
about the quality of groundwater, the spatial extent                        1993–94.
of contamination, and the impact of climate, landfill
management and abstractions for irrigation.

  Table1: Waste to landfill (tonnes) ACT and Queanbeyan, 2000–01 to 2002–03*
   Waste Stream                             2000–01            2001–02             2002–03                    Change
                                                                                                       (2000–01 to 2002–03)
   Commercial and industrial                  72,885             85,763             97,467            + 24,762     (+34.0%)
   Building and demolition                    70,600             53,039             27,477             –43,123      (–61.1%)
   Domestic collection                        58,668             59,187             60,375              +1707        (+2.9%)
   Private delivery                           22,072             22,339             21,568                –504       (–1.5%)
   Total household**                          80,740             81,526             81,943              +1203        (+1.5%)
   Total                                     224,225            220,328            207,067             –17,158       (–7.7%)
   * For longer term trends, see;** Domestic collection plus private delivery

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This increase is of particular concern given the
                                                                              Table 2. Illegal dumping in the ACT,
appreciable decline in waste from this sector
                                                                                        2000–01 to 2002–03
recorded in the previous reporting period.
                                                                               Activities              ‘00–01 ‘01–02             ‘02–03
Waste from domestic (kerbside) collection rose                                 Investigations into          395        445         558
2.9%, continuing, albeit at a slower rate, a steady                            illegal dumping*
increase since 1995–96. However this was offset                                Vehicles dumped in           431        591         671
by a 1.5% decrease in the mass of household                                    public areas**
waste delivered directly to the tip, so that total
                                                                                *Investigation by city ranges only; **Impounded by city
household waste rose by only 1.5% during the                                    rangers; Data from Department of Urban Services
reporting period. Over the longer term, a much
greater reduction has been achieved in household
waste delivered directly to the tip, with a two-thirds                     Causal factors for this increase are not known,
reduction from the highest recorded level in                               although it may partly reflect a response to the
1994-95. The staged introduction of tip fees for                           government’s waste pricing strategy.
private deliveries, from January 1996, is
considered to be the key factor influencing this
                                                                           Recycling to reduce waste to landfill
                                                                           The ACT NOWaste by 2010 Strategy has a
Annual waste per person increases                                          strong focus on recyling; recovered waste can be
                                                                           used as a resource for alternative future uses.
Total waste generation—waste to landfill plus
recovered materials—increased from 1.65                                    During the reporting period residents of the ACT
tonnes/person/annum in 2002–01 to 1.89                                     (and Queanbeyan) continued to recycle more of
tonnes/person/annum in 2002–03. This is                                    their waste, in both absolute and proportional
consistent with the close link in developed                                terms (see Table 3). From 2000–01 to 2002–03,
countries between gross domestic product and per                           the total mass of waste recycled increased by
capita waste generation. Breaking this link is a                           31.5% to 466,604 tonnes, while the proportion of
significant task for the NoWaste by 2010 Strategy.                         waste recycled rose from 61% to 69%, i.e.
                                                                           increased by 13%.
Annual waste to landfill from domestic collection
increased marginally, from 166.8 to                                        This significant increase in recycling is
169.0 kilograms/person, indicating that the                                commendable, but needs to be viewed with
NOWaste 2010 Strategy has had little impact on                             caution. While it shows an increased behavioural
the amount of waste thrown in the bin (ACT                                 and technological capacity to recycle, it also
NOWaste 2003).                                                             indicates that, at a whole-of-community level, we
                                                                           are largely failing to reduce or avoid waste at the
Only because of increases in resource recovery,                            source or in the first place. during or after the
did the average annual per capita waste to landfill                        bushfires (Ray Brown, ActewAGL, pers. comm.).
from all sources actually fall from 0.64 tonnes to
0.58 tonnes during the reporting period.                                   Data for volumes of specific types of materials
                                                                           recovered for recycling and/or reuse in the period
                                                                           2000–01 to 2002–03 are shown in Table 4. Over
Illegal dumping in the ACT increased                                       the three-year period, recovered volumes
Waste is illegally dumped on public lands across                           increased for many materials, particularly for
the ACT, and may be removed by nearby residents                            demolition waste (clearly related to the significant
or city rangers for disposal to landfill. Existing data                    reduction in waste of this type to landfill),
suggest an overall increasing trend in dumping in                          aluminium, metals (ferrous), clothing and other
the three years to 2002–03 (Table 2).                                      materials such as batteries, tyres, paint, sullage
                                                                           and wood and timber. These increases may be a

  Table 3: Resource recovery and total waste stream, ACT and Queanbeyan 2000–01 to 2002–03*
   Waste Stream                            2000–01             2001–02            2002–03                    Change
                                                                                                     (2000–01 to 2002–03)
   Recycled (tonnes)                        354,779            398,967             466,604           +111,825     (+31.5%)
   Recycled (of total)                         61%                64%                 69%             + 13.1%      (–61.1%)
   To landfill (tonnes)                     224,225            220,328             207,067            - 17,158       (-7.7%)
   To landfill (of total)                      39%                36%                 31%              - 20.5%      (–1.5%)
   Total                                    579,004            619,295             673,671            +94,667      (+16.3%)
   * For longer term trends, see

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function of both an escalation in the generation of                        Continuing with the NOWaste strategy
waste materials (due to population growth and an                           When the NOWaste Strategy was introduced in
improved economy) as well as improved uptake of                            1996, the ACT was the first Government,
new practices. A reduction in the volumes of some                          worldwide, to implement a zero waste policy. The
recyclable materials, such as liquid paperboard,                           principal goal of the strategy—to have no waste
steel cans, salvage and motor oil, also occurred.                          to landfill by 2010—is supported by actions and
Comparison of ACT resource recovery statistics                             plans to avoid, reduce, re-use and recycle waste
and results from the 2001–2002 waste inventory                             generated by the various waste streams
indicates that a significant proportion of paper,                          (including domestic, building, commercial and
glass and ferrous metal are still being disposed to                        industrial).
landfill (Table 5). A significant proportion of plastic                    The Next Step revision of the NOWaste Strategy,
containers, glass, aluminium, steel cans and liquid                        released in March 2000, established targets for
paperboard, and approximately half of the paper, is                        reduced waste to landfill and consequently
derived from kerbside collections. Recyclable                              focussed on reduction in waste disposal to
material from kerbside collections is sorted, and                          landfill. Future revisions of the strategy will need
disposed to landfill if found to be contaminated.                          to address the impacts on waste generation of
The high proportion of recyclables disposed to                             population growth and increased affluence. See
landfill demonstrates the need for additional                              <
strategies to target the reduction of contamination                        nthenowastestrategy.pdf> for more information.
from domestic sources, and limited source                                  Key programs supporting the NOWaste by 2010
separation in the commercial sector.                                       Strategy are:
Additional resources may also be necessary to                              Education:
support new technologies that address                                      • provision of rubbish and recycling bins at
contamination of recyclable materials or mixed                               public events
residual waste.
                                                                           • second-hand Sundays
                                                                             (continued next page …)

  Table 4: Resource recovery by type (tonnes), ACT 2000–01 to 2002–03*
   Product                                  2000–01             2001–02            2002–03             Change
                                                                                                 (2000–01 to 2002–03)
   Paper                                    37,147               42,257            44,560           +7413     (+20.0%)
   Glass                                      8224                 8347              7856            -368         (-4.5%)
   Plastic                                   1286                  1462              1407            +121        (+9.4%)
   Liquid paper board                           98                   67                80             -18       (-18.4%)
   Aluminium                                   106                  104               205             +99      (+93.4%)
   Steel cans                                  736                  746               673             -63         (-8.6%)
   Garden waste/compost                    130,446              132,983           163,379         +32,933     (+25.2%)
   Demolition                              156,606              188,191           222,760         +66,154     (+42.2%)
   Metals (ferrous)                          4782                 7463             11,021           +6239    (+130.5%)
   Cooking oil and fat                         601                  629               879            +278      (+46.3%)
   Clothing                                   2780                 3185              3810           +1030     (+37.1%)
   Salvage and reuse                          6173                 6995              2610           -3763       (-57.7%)
   Motor oil                                  3190                 4069              2546            -644       (-20.2%)
   Other                                     2606                  2470              4820           +2214     (+85.0%)
   * For longer term trends, see

  Table 5: Proportion of paper, glass and ferrous metal disposed to landfill in the ACT, 2001–2002
  Product                                        Tonnes of Material                               % of Recyclables
                      ACT recycling/               2001–2002                 Total Recyclable       Disposed to
                      Resource recovery          Waste to Landfill           Material Audited          Landfill
  Paper                     42,257                   55,590                        97,847               56.8
  Glass                      8347                      6561                        14,908                44
  Ferrous metal              7463                      6194                        13,657               43.3
   Source: Data supplied by ACT NoWaste

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Education (cont.…)                                       Creek at Mugga Lane) has demonstrated
• NOWaste Education Centre, Mugga Lane, to               exceedences for suspended sediment loads and
  support schools and community groups                   bacteriological contamination. Although data are
• eco-business (launched May 2002)                       not continuous, eight exceedences were
• Waste Wise Schools Program (launched                   recorded of bacteriological contamination at the
  August 2003)                                           Mugga Lane Landfill and two at West Belconnen
                                                         during the reporting period. Over the same
Services and infrastructure:
                                                         period, two exceedences were recorded in
• kerbside collections
                                                         suspended sediment loads at Mugga Lane and
• regional recycling centres
                                                         three at West Belconnen landfill.
• Mitchell Resource Management Centre (April
   2002)                                                 In some cases, there was a clear correlation of
• materials recovery facility                            recorded exceedences with high rainfall events
• facilities for reprocessing garden organics            (such as November 2000, February and
• centres for reuse (Revolve and Aussie Junk)            November 2002, and February 2003).
• recycling and recovery estates (Parkwood and           Pathogenic contamination associated with Mugga
   Hume)                                                 Lane in February 2002 had off-site impacts
• small vehicle transfer station, Mugga Lane             resulting in faecal coliform concentrations of 7900
   (April, 2002)                                         cfu per 100 ml in Dog Trap Creek’s water.
• waste pricing strategy (by which charges for           However, climate is not invariably the controlling
   disposal to landfill by the general public            factor for exceedences of guidelines.
   increase according to the size of the delivery        Contamination of groundwater at both Belconnen
   vehicle)                                              and Mugga Lane is largely in terms of
Research and development:                                exceedences for copper and chromium, but this
• household battery recycling trial                      varies both spatially and temporally. At each
• public place recycling trial                           landfill, there is a vulnerable site characterised by
• organic bio-bin trial                                  frequent exceedences. However, in August 2002,
• feasibility study of the Hume Resource                 consistently high readings for copper and
   Recovery Estate                                       chromium were recorded in most bores at both
Government leadership:                                   sites.
• interdepartmental committee for waste                  Monitoring data provide valuable insights to the
   management                                            vulnerability of landfill sites and, in particular, the
• review of environmentally responsible                  underlying groundwater resource. Given that little
   purchasing policy                                     is understood about the ACT groundwater
• best-practice waste management for                     resource base, further monitoring and analysis
   government buildings                                  will help to fill knowledge gaps about the quality
                                                         of groundwater, the spatial extent of
Water quality suffers at landfill sites                  contamination, and the impact of climate, landfill
Surface and groundwater data for the West                management and abstractions for irrigation.
Belconnen and Mugga Lane landfill sites indicate
that leachates are an important potential source of
salts, sediments, nutrients, pathogens and heavy         Data sources and references
metals within their catchments (Ginninderra and          ACT NOWaste, Environment ACT, Department of
Jerrabomberra Creeks respectively). Effective            Urban Services and Resource NSW,
waste management therefore also involves                 Queanbeyan.
minimising the risk of contamination of water and
land resources.                                          Population data were sourced from the Australian
Monitoring for a range of physical, chemical and         Bureau of Statistics Regional Population Growth,
bacteriological indicators in surface retention          Australia and New Zealand 2000–01, 2001–02,
dams, bores, and one drainage line (Dog Trap             2002–03, (Cat. No. 3218.

                           Office of the Commissioner for the Environment
                           Phone:     02 6207 2626

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