ACT State of the Environment 2007

Indicator: Solid waste

Summary

Under the visionary target of No Waste by 2010 the ACT Government has achieved some considerable successes. From 1994–95 to 2006–07, 62% of the total waste stream1 (4.88 million tonnes out of 7.85 million tonnes) was diverted from landfill for further use. However, during this same period, while population growth has been around 10%, total waste increased by 87% (408,624 tonnes to 764,058 tonnes)

In 2005 the Australia Institute claimed Canberrans had the highest rate of wasteful consumption in Australia (Hamilton et al. 2005:viii). The figures above suggest that the fundamental and first step in managing waste – that is, waste avoidance – needs to be given greater priority.

A waste minimisation program is needed to build on the successes of No Waste by 2010, with clear, transparent and measurable performance measures that reduce waste to landfill, increase resource recovery and reduce total waste generation. Waste to landfill from the business sector remains the most intransigent. A program to specifically address this issue is needed. Other areas to focus future waste reduction efforts include public place recycling, diversion of organics from landfill and recycling of e-waste.

As a goal to continually work towards, No Waste is worth retaining. Many in the community have embraced No Waste; some businesses and all Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) schools have demonstrated outstanding leadership in reducing their waste or/and increasing their recycling.

Solid waste in the ACT comes from:

  • domestic kerbside collections
  • construction sites
  • business (includes all commercial and industrial businesses, educational institutions and government)
  • private waste that is delivered to landfill by citizens.
  • The ACT Government funds domestic kerbside collections of waste to landfill (green bin) and materials for recycling (yellow bin). Private companies provide collection and recycling services for business. Both business and non-business deliveries of waste to landfill are charged for at the tip face based on weight or load size. The ACT Government does not charge for domestic or business materials that can be recycled if these are delivered to waste/transfer centres.2

What the results tell us about the ACT

No Waste: 1994–95 to 2006–07 – recycling the jewel in the No Waste crown

The No Waste by 2010 strategy was introduced in December 1996 and has achieved international status for its progressive stance on waste with Canberrans showing they are champion recyclers. As a result the ACT is considered a world leader in waste management. Implementation plans have been progressed to support the drive towards No Waste. It is now 11 years since the Territory adopted the strategy and this state of the environment report is the last before 2010. This indicator (and its Appendix) therefore, provides a broad assessment of the No Waste by 2010 strategy to help inform change to the existing strategy or its replacement. In line with the reporting framework for this report, information specific to the reporting period, 2003–07, is also included.

Under the visionary target of No Waste by 2010 some considerable successes have been achieved (for further information on action implanted under the No Waste Strategy see Table A.1 in the Appendix). For example, comparison of 1994–95 and 2006–07 reveals that since the strategy was introduced:

  • 62% of the total waste stream (4.88 million tonnes out of 7.85 million tonnes) was diverted from landfill for further use
  • the resource recovery rate has increased by 315% (136,570 tonnes to 566,633 tonnes)
  • waste to landfill has reduced by 27% (272,054 tonnes down to 197,425 tonnes
  • the highest annual resource recovery rate of 75% (579,440 tonnes) was achieved in 2005–06.

However, during this same period, total waste increased by 87% (408,624 tonnes to 764,058 tonnes) yet population growth has been around 10%. On average, each person contributed 2261 kilograms to the total waste stream each year during the reporting period, compared with 1934 kilograms for the previous reporting period.

The 1997 Infrastructure Action Plan for No Waste by 2010 was premised on a focus of resource recovery rather than disposal. The No Waste by 2010 strategy provided the mandate. Mugga Lane was identified as a principal landfill site; resource recovery estates and transfer stations were proposed.3 The process would include reparation of old landfills and generation of energy via methane extraction plants at West Belconnen and Hume–Mugga Lane.

An independent assessment of the progress towards targets of the No Waste by 2010 strategy was conducted after implementation of the first two years' actions (OCE 1999). Many of the actions had been implemented either fully or partially and substantial progress made. Some weaknesses were found and nine comprehensive recommendations were made, including a need for targets to take the strategy to 2010 and for a whole-of-government commitment to the strategy.

Turning Waste into Resources, the government's action plan for implementing the No Waste by 2010 strategy, for 2004–07, was adopted in August 2004. While considerable progress has been made, some actions have only been partially implemented or not implemented at all (see the Appendix).

In 2005 a government leadership program was established under the Turning Waste into Resources action plan to help government agencies and stakeholders implement effective recycling and waste reduction systems. It did not proceed. A guideline for best practice waste management within ACT Government buildings was developed during The Next Step strategy and made available on the NOWaste website, where it remains. An updated best practice guide for government under the Turning Waste into Resources action plan was nearing completion in late 2007. The opportunity to implement comprehensive systems for recycling and waste reduction has existed for some years, but has only been adopted by some agencies, including the Department of Urban Services (now Territory and Municipal Services), the ACT Planning and Land Authority, the Chief Minister's Department and the Legislative Assembly. In 2004–05, Macarthur House (the location of ACT NOWaste and TAMS) was set up as a test case for an across-government office-based waste management program.

The significant increase in waste generation compared to population increases, combined with relatively poor results for recycling of business waste, has placed stresses on the waste management system. In the 2006–07 Budget, the government acknowledged that the No Waste by 2010 strategy was 'not achievable within current budget allocations' (ACT Government 2006:27). Given these factors, the government has announced a review of 'ways in which the goals of NOWaste can be achieved' (ACT Government 2006:215). The momentum for recovery of various waste streams for further use is to be encouraged otherwise there are significant implications for land use requirements to accommodate waste.

The No Waste journey

Key markers in the Territory's No Waste journey have been:

  • Construction waste to landfill decreased by 70.5% as a result of provision of infrastructure and facilities for recycling. The remaining 20,792 tonnes (11% of the total waste to landfill) requires further reduction.
  • Private delivery waste to landfill ('trips to the dump') decreased by 68.3%, as a result of an effective change in pricing policy at the tip face for non-business waste. Private delivery has remained at around 20,000 to 21,000 tonnes per year (10% of the total waste to landfill) since the different pricing policy was introduced in July 2000 except in 2004–05 when there was a substantial and unexplained increase.
  • Household waste to landfill (the weekly garbage collection) increased by 56%, from 15% of total waste to landfill in 1994–95 to 29% in 2006–07. This was partly as a result of increases in the number of households, but per-person and per-household waste have also continued to rise. However, this increase in proportion is also due to reductions in private delivery and in wastes to landfill (from sources other than household collected waste and business). This results in the percentage of collected domestic waste increasing as a percentage of the total.
  • In 2003, the household divided recycling bin was converted to a single unit bin to simplify recycling for householders and to achieve greater recovery in sorting plants.
  • Audits of household collections (both garbage and recycling) were conducted in June 1997, September 2001, March, October and December 2003, April 2004 and November 2007. The November 2007 audit showed 48.5% of household collections were made up of food and compostable waste.

Those audits also indicate that while recycling improved between 2004 and 2007, consolidated composition of the garbage stream still contained substantial recyclable paper/cardboard (3.6%), recyclable containers (9.0%) and green waste (8.2%) being put straight into the garbage.

Early analysis of business waste identified paper and cardboard (as well as kitchen waste) as the main components. Paper/cardboard recycling in the ACT is now an established business but significant increases in recycling of this type of product have not been realised.

Garden waste to landfill has reduced significantly over time (2969 tonnes in 2005–06 and only 372 tonnes in 2006–07). Recycled garden waste/compost has been one of the major success stories of recycling, with specific garden waste recycling services set up at Mugga Lane and West Belconnen landfills in 2001–02. Starting at 35,500 tonnes recycled in 1994–95, it has grown consistently each year to 223,415 tonnes in 2006–07 (an increase of 529.3%).

No Waste target to become No Waste goal

Despite achievements in diverting waste to landfill and considerable government investment in recovery and disposal infrastructure, the visionary target of No Waste to landfill by 2010 is unlikely to be achieved. It is unlikely that the target was ever achievable and budget allocations alone will never be able to fully achieve a 100% reduction in waste4 as this would require a significant reduction in consumption and thereby affect people's lifestyles. Accordingly there will always be a shortfall in being able to achieve the No Waste target.

However, as a goal to work towards, the No Waste target has achieved significant results and is worth retaining. Many in the community have embraced No Waste, with businesses like Capitol Chilled Foods, the Australian National University, community groups like the National Folk Festival and Charity Computers and all the AuSSI schools demonstrating outstanding leadership in reducing their waste or/and increasing their recycling efforts.

Moving forward

An area that can be influenced is the currently intransigent business and domestic waste; both have increased, rather than decreased, over time. Also significant, although decreased, are construction waste and private deliveries. Together these four waste types comprise 183,746 tonnes (93%) of the 197,425 tonnes of waste that went to landfill in 2006–07.

A 2007 audit found that 48.5% of ACT domestic waste is organic and provides a clear target for the next significant reduction in waste to landfill. This would translate to 25,000 tonnes a year just from domestic household collections that could be processed into another product, such as compost. A further estimated 30,000 tonnes from the business sector could also be processed in this way.

It is understood that ACT NOWaste is proposing to seek approval to introduce differential charges for business waste to discourage loads containing a high percentage of recyclable materials. This sort of change to the pricing structure would widen the existing gap between costs for business recycling and business waste to landfill. As happened with introduction of the new pricing structure for private deliveries in 2000, it would be prudent to couple the new charges with a comprehensive education campaign. It would also be prudent to investigate provision of facilitation services for the high proportion of small and micro businesses that characterise Canberra's private sector, and that have scarce resources for introducing new systems. A lead-time may be necessary to ensure infrastructure and capacity exist within the business sector to deal with the increase in business.

The recyclable content in household collections also needs to be considered, along with better systems of recycling for people living in units and apartments.

Undertaking actions to improve business, organic and recycling waste management could increase waste recovery. A 90% recovery, if possible, would mean approximately 76,000 tonnes of waste to landfill a year instead of nearly 200,000 tonnes. This would extend the life of the new Mugga Lane waste cell by perhaps up to 10 years and slow the demand for additional costly infrastructure as well as more land for landfill.5 The government should progress a waste minimisation policy approach to build on the successes of No Waste by 2010 strategy, with a clear, transparent and measurable performance measures that increase resource recovery, and reduce waste to landfill and total waste generation.

Achievements in the reporting period

In 2005–06, the Territory achieved the highest level, some 579,440 tonnes (75%), in recovery for recycling of the total waste stream (Table 1). This is strong evidence of the effect of the No Waste by 2010 strategy and is understood to be a 'first' for Australia.6

Table 1: Total waste stream, 1994–95 to 2006–07
Year Waste to landfill (tonnes) Waste to landfill as % of total Resource recovery (tonnes) Resource recovery as % of total Total waste stream (tonnes)
1994–95 272,054 67 136,570 33 408,624
1995–96 252,068 58 184,458 42 436,526
1996–97a 237,981 51 230,372 49 468,353
1997–98 239,726 51 230,337 49 470,063
1998–99 252,686 43 330,888 57 583,574
1999–00 259,084 43 341,898 57 600,982
2000–01 224,225 39 354,779 61 579,004b
2001–02 220,328 36 398,967 64 619,295
2002–03 207,067 31 466,604 69 673,671
2003–04 208,390 29 504,440 71 712,830
2004–05 204,396 27 554,936 73 759,332
2005–06 192,311 25 579,440 75 771,751
2006–07 197,425 26 566,633 74 764,058b
2003–04 to 2006–07 cumulative total 802,522 27 2,205,449 73 3,007,971
1994–95 to 2006–07 cumulative total 2,967,741 38 4,880,322 62 7,848,063

Notes: a 1996 No Waste by 2010 strategy adopted
b Denotes decrease from the previous year's tonnages
Shaded area is the reporting period for this state of the environment report
Source: ACT NOWaste TAMS

The best results, in terms of reduction of waste to landfill, during this reporting period came from reductions in construction (building and demolition) and garden waste (Table A.2). The largest recovery gains were in garden/compost, ferrous metals, glass and an increased volume of timber for reuse/recycling (included in the undifferentiated category 'other'; Table A.3). ACT NOWaste has indicated it intends reporting on wood/timber as a discrete category in future.

To reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, the ACT Government established charges, as of 1 January 2004, for accepting computer monitors and boxes. These charges are used to pay the costs of having the computers transported and dismantled and the independent components recycled. An unintended consequence of the charges has been illegal dumping of computers, particularly at charity stores and clothing bins where numbers have increased significantly. The government is currently paying the costs of recycling these dumped computers so as not to financially disadvantage charitable organisations.

The Waste Wise Schools program, later the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) was one of the most successful initiatives of the reporting period. Educating the next generation in resource efficiency and awareness of unsustainable consumption is critical for long-term success in reducing Canberra's ecological footprint. In addition, the No Waste Awards were first held in November 2004, and have continued each year since. These awards highlight actions being taken across a variety of categories, including education, business, community groups, public places and events, demolition and construction, government agencies and overall resource recovery.

The state-of-the-art Mugga Lane Landfill waste cell was completed in May 2007 after six years' design, planning and construction and at a cost of more than $11 million. It commenced operations on 1 July 2007 and has an expected life of no more than seven years. Major environmental features of the waste cell are a concrete shell to prevent leachate, a covering membrane that is removed and replaced daily instead of using clean fill that would shorten the life of the landfill, and a methane extraction plant.

In its 2006–07 Budget, the government indicated its commitment to reducing waste to landfill, and to 'review targets to an affordable and achievable level' (ACT Government 2006:27).

Waste continues to increase

Canberrans are high consumers and it is showing in their waste production. From 2003–04 to 2006–07 total waste continued to increase faster than the Territory's population growth with waste increasing 7% (from 712,830 tonnes to 764,058 tonnes) yet population growth has been around 4%. While Canberrans continue to recycle or reuse most waste, their waste is still increasing. On average, each person contributed 2261 kilograms to the total waste stream each year during the reporting period, compared with 1934 kilograms for the previous reporting period.

In 2005–06, while resource recovery had continued to rise from previous years and waste to landfill had continued to decrease, the total waste stream in 2005–06 reached a high of 771,751 tonnes Table 1). Each household contributed an average of 414 kilograms a year to landfill during the reporting period.7

In 2006–07, the last year of the reporting period, waste to landfill increased for the first time since implementation of the No Waste strategy.8 Data for the first six months of 2007–08 show waste to landfill continuing to increase, prompting revised projections of 213,000 tonnes for 2007–08, against 192,311 tonnes in 2005–06 and 197,425 tonnes in 2006–07. Should waste to landfill continue to increase in line with these projections, resources will need to be redirected from waste reduction to creation of new landfill facilities, perhaps as early as 2008–09.9 While reduction in the total waste stream is a desirable outcome, the change in direction (though not statistically significant) needs to be monitored.

Research by the Australia Institute (Hamilton et al. 2005) shows that, among other things:

  • residents of the ACT are the most wasteful in Australia, spending on average, $1475 per year on unused items (mostly food); this is 20% higher than the national average of $1226 (2005:viii)
  • other things being equal, the richer we become the more likely we are to spend on goods and services that we do not use (2005:viii)
  • 'problem wasters' tend to be young, rich or both (2005:x)
  • the growth in consumption, together with the nature of that consumption, is outrunning the ability of existing recycling and waste avoidance policies to reduce waste. This suggests a need for much stronger policy focus on more far-reaching innovation in product service delivery systems; and economic and social policies that encourage a shift to non-consumptive means of achieving wellbeing (2005:12).

The increasing total waste stream and increasing demands for environmental health also mean increases in the cost of waste management to the community, particularly in the form of infrastructure. Recovery of resources, however, does provide opportunities for diversifying the Territory's economy. Greater business opportunities need to be facilitated.

Litter and illegal dumping

During the reporting period, the ACT Government participated in a national approach to reducing plastic retail carry bag pollution through the Environment Protection and Heritage Council.10 Initiatives the Environment Ministers of Australia agreed to in December 2002 included a challenge to retailers to establish a code of practice with targets to reduce the use of plastic bags and ultimately to phase out their use within five years. Despite the Australian jurisdictions supporting a levy, the Australian Government ruled out this was approach.

The Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) and Group One Retailers11 responded with an investment of more than $50 million over two years resulting in a 45% Australia-wide reduction in use of plastic bags; approximately 3 billion bags from the December 2002 baseline of some 6.9 billion bags. Many people have changed to reusable 'green' bags. In addition, through provision of in-store recycling facilities and recycling awareness campaigns, Group One Retailers' supermarket customers achieved a recycling rate of 14% of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bags issued (ANRA 2006). Despite the success, and a commitment by ANRA to continue with the program, the report noted the majority of consumers still needed to alter their behaviour, and also that the program needed to be extended to other outlets.

The ACT Government is also working at a national level to address other waste issues such as tyres, batteries and packaging.

The ACT Litter Act 2004 came into effect in September 2004 supports TAMS City Rangers conducting investigations and imposing fines. Waste is often illegally dumped on public lands across the ACT, and may be removed by nearby residents or City Rangers for disposal to landfill. Information on illegal dumping is not complete. The best available information was derived from work done by the Territory's City Rangers as shown in Table 2.12

Table 2: Illegal dumping activities in the ACT, 2003–04 to 2006–07
Activities 2003–04 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07
Number of litter investigations conducted by City Rangers 444 518 478 353
Number of litter fines issued 38 46 75 69
Number of motor vehicles dumped on public roads and public areas, impounded by City Rangers 531 344 303 273

Source: Data supplied by City Rangers, TAMS

There was a progressive reduction in the number of dumped motor vehicles to just under half that at the beginning of the reporting period (Table 2). Causal factors for the changes are not known, but it is possible that the increasing value of vehicles on the scrap market is a factor (Ranger comment).

Future challenges

If waste to landfill continues to increase and resource recovery continues to decrease the need for new landfill cells will arise much sooner than the government originally anticipated. This matter should be explored in the review of the No Waste strategy. Part of this strategy should include the ACT Government assistance and support for development and growth of a sustainable resources recovery industry sector within the ACT; for example, a small paper mill to produce paper products from ACT recycled paper. Developing a market and industry for resource recovery and creation of by-products is not only an investment in our economy but also the sustainability of our city.

Avoidance

The Australia Institute (Hamilton et al. 2005) claims that Canberrans have the highest rate of wasteful consumption in Australia. This suggests that the fundamental and first step in managing waste in the Territory must be to give waste avoidance greater priority. To this end, a local and national awareness program to encourage consumers to avoid creating waste is needed. Accordingly, the ACT Government is urged to develop such a program to address unsustainable consumption.

Boosting recycling efforts

To further boost recycling the ACT and Australian governments should provide more opportunities for this to occur in public places and at public events in areas under their control. This would be a visible way to show residents and visitors the importance of effectively managing waste.

The government also needs to address the recyclable content in household collections, along with better systems of recycling for people living in units. Increased community education and promotion of household kerbside recycling should target the remaining 12% of waste in kerbside landfill bins that could be recycled.

Organic waste

The 2007 audit found that 48.5% of ACT domestic waste is organic and provides a clear target for the next significant reduction in waste to landfill. This would translate to 25,000 tonnes a year just from domestic household collections that could be processed into another product, such as mulch. A further estimated 30,000 tonnes from the business sector could also be processed in this way. This suggests there are business opportunities for processing something like 55,000 tonnes of collected organic waste.

Based on 2006–07 total waste stream figures, a diversion of 55,000 tonnes from landfill could achieve up to 90% recovery. Given this, it is recommended that strategies to divert organic waste from landfill be pursued. The Australian National University is already diverting organics through an R5-1812 'Hot Rot' system. In the first few months of a new system, seven tonnes each week of food waste and other compostable materials from the campus were converted into nutrient-rich mulch. The projected target for the first year was for diversion from landfill of 250 tonnes of organic waste and for 500 tonnes in subsequent years. There are both environmental and economic savings from such a system.

Business waste

Waste to landfill from the business sector remains the most intransigent. It is understood that ACT NOWaste is proposing to seek approval to introduce differential charges for business waste to discourage loads containing a high percentage of recyclable materials. This sort of change to the pricing structure would widen the existing gap between costs for business recycling and business waste to landfill. As happened with the introduction of the new pricing structure for private deliveries in 2000, it would be prudent to couple the new charges with a comprehensive education campaign.

It would also be prudent to investigate provision of facilitation services for the high proportion of small businesses which characterise Canberra's private sector, and which have scarce resources for introducing new systems. A lead-time may be necessary to ensure infrastructure and capacity exist within the business sector to deal with the increase in business. A program to specifically address this issue is needed. Although business waste deposited at landfill sites is charged on a unit of waste basis, this sector remains reluctant to embrace recycling. While the government may have a role in fostering such a program, the business sector should take responsibility and show greater leadership in this area; perhaps it could volunteer to publicly report on its waste generation and disposal methods.

E-waste

An emerging issue for which there are no data is e-waste (computer terminals, computer monitors, mobile phones, televisions). ACT Government charges for the acceptance of computer monitors and boxes were introduced to pay the costs of transporting and dismantling computers and recycling the independent components; some charity's also accepted computers for recycling (see Table 3). An unintended consequence of the charges has been illegal dumping of computers, particularly at charity stores and clothing bins.

Table 3: E-waste drop off to charity and private organisation, 2006–07
Category 2006 2007
Terminal Monitor Terminal Monitor
Charity drop off 58 560 36 612
Private drop off 984 2,448 1,107 2,608
Total 1,042 3,008 1,143 3,220

Source: ACT NoWaste 2008

The government is pursuing opportunities to establish television acceptance arrangements at the Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre to have these intercepted for recycling; and discussions are underway with the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association about mobile phone recycling at regional recycling centres.

Given the high percentage of Australian Government agencies, tertiary and research institutions in the ACT and the likely overall high use of electronic equipment by Canberrans, an opportunity exists to form an ACT e-waste collaborative to foster actions to address this emerging issue and provide leadership to other jurisdictions. As there are no data on the total amount of e-waste in the ACT (the data in Table 3 only include computers and only those dropped off at charities or waste transfer stations), securing these data would be a logical first step for such a collaborative.

The Australian National University through its ANUgreen program has been collecting e-waste for recycling since around 2002. This program has slowly built resulting in increased volumes each year. In 2007 the ANU had a total collection of just over 31 tonnes of material being collected and sent for recycling to MRI Australia in Sydney. To date the program has resulted in over 100 tonnes of material being collected.

A 90% recovery, if possible, would mean approximately 76,000 tonnes of waste to landfill a year instead of nearly 200,000 tonnes. This would extend the life of the new Mugga Lane waste cell by perhaps up to 10 years and slow the demand for additional costly infrastructure13 as well as more land for landfill.

Data sources and references

ACT NOWaste, Territory and Municipal Services and the ACT Government provided data for waste and recycling/recovered materials.

ACT Auditor-General's Office 2004, Data reliability for reporting on the ACT No Waste by 2010 strategy, Performance Audit Report, ACT Government, available at <http://www.audit.act.gov.au/reports2004.html>

ACT Auditor-General's Office 2005, Performance Audit Report: Reporting on Ecologically Sustainable Development, ACT Government, available at <http://www.audit.act.gov.au/auditreports/reports2005/Reporting%20on%20ESD.pdf>

ACT Government 1996, No Waste by 2010: turning waste into resources – Action Plan 2004–07 <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/live/Recycling_and_Waste>

ACT Government 2000, The Next Step in the No Waste strategy, available at <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/live/Recycling_and_Waste/The_No_Waste_strategy>

ACT Government 2004, Turning Waste into Resources Action Plan, 2004–07, available at <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/12497/turningwasteintoresources.pdf>

ACT Government 2006, For the future: economic and financial outlook for the ACT, Budget Papers 2006–07, p.27

ACT Government 2007, 2006–07 Budget Paper No. 3.2 – Structural Reform, available at <http://www.treasury.act.gov.au/budget/budget_2006/files/paper3/03reform.pdf>

ANRA Australian National Retailers Association Ltd 2006, Plastic carry bags, working towards continuous environmental improvement – Report to the Chairman, Environment Protection and Heritage Council, ANRA, available at <http://www.ephc.gov.au/pdf/Plastic_Bags/ANRA_Report_to_EPHC_Chair_22_May_2006.pdf>

APrince Consulting Pty Ltd trading as APC, Domestic Waste Audit for Thiess Services and ACT NOWaste, November 2007 (unpub)

APrince Consulting Pty Ltd, Canberra Residential Waste Audit for ACT JRG and ACT NOWaste, April 2004 (unpub)

Hamilton C, Denniss R and Baker D 2005, Wasteful Consumption in Australia, Discussion Paper Number 77, The Australia Institute Ltd, available at <http://www.tai.org.au/documents/downloads/DP77.pdf>

McIntyre and Associates Pty Ltd, No Waste by 2010 Infrastructure Action Plan, (unpub) June 1997

OCE Office of the ACT Commissioner for the Environment 1999, Progress Towards No Waste by 2010, ACT Government, available at <http://www.envcomm.act.gov.au/publications/nowasteprogress>

Planet Ark 2005, 10 years of recycling: The good, the bad and the ugly, report by Planet Ark for National Recycling Week <http://recyclingnearyou.com.au/documents/05nrw_gbugly_report-1.pdf>

TAMS Territory and Municipal Services 1996, No Waste by 2010: turning waste into resources – Action Plan 2004–07, ACT Government, available at <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/12497/turningwasteintoresources.pdf>


 

Appendix: Additional information about the No Waste strategy

Introduction

An independent assessment of the progress towards targets of the 1996 No Waste by 2010 strategy was conducted after implementation of the first two years' actions (OCE 1999). Many of the actions had been implemented either fully or partially and substantial progress made. Some weaknesses were found and nine comprehensive recommendations were made, including a need for targets to take the strategy to 2010 and for a whole-of-government commitment to the strategy, through its agencies.

ACT NOWaste has since produced several progress reports but apart from updates in subsequent Commissioner for the Environment annual reports and state of the environment reports for 2000 and 2003, there has been no overall independent review or assessment of progress towards the No Waste by 2010 strategy.

As this will be the last state of the environment report before 2010, an assessment of progress since commencement of the strategy has been undertaken and is presented in this appendix.

A 1994 document paved the way for a 1997 Infrastructure Action Plan for No Waste by 2010 that was premised on a focus of resource recovery rather than disposal. The No Waste by 2010 strategy provided the mandate. Mugga Lane was identified as a principal landfill site; resource recovery estates and transfer stations were proposed. The process would include reparation of old landfills and generation of energy through methane extraction plants at West Belconnen and Hume/Mugga Lane.

Table A.1: Actions the ACT Government adopted for implementing the No Waste by 2010 strategy
No Waste by 2010 strategy – 1996–98 (December 1996) The Next Step in the No Waste strategy – 2000–02 (March 2000) Turning Waste into Resources – 2004–07 (August 2004)
Community commitment (information programs and community support; public recognition)
Avoidance and reduction (waste inventory and benchmarks; Smart Buying; reduction agreements and cleaner production; waste audits and legislation)
Resource recovery (resource recovery infrastructure; Resource Exchange Network)
Residual waste management (waste handling systems; landfill charging)
Creative solutions (research and development; market development; linkages)
Targets (waste types such as paper/cardboard; food/kitchen; naturally excavated soil, concrete/bricks, wood/timber)
Government leadership
Education and community programs (annual progress reports; Second-hand Sunday; Earthworks; community and schools programs; No Waste education centre)
Waste pricing
Infrastructure and services
Market development (marketability; barriers to use of recycled products; Australasian Market Development Network; local industry – research and development; access to technologies; Temporary Resource Recovery Estate
Collection systems (domestic organic trials; business collections; recycling in public places)
Building and demolition waste reduction
Legislation and regulation
Future technologies
Community engagement (Waste Wise Schools; No Waste awards; public event/place recycling; community programs – Second-hand Sunday; composting workshops/displays; progress reports; No Waste education centre)
Government leadership (ACT Government Leadership Committee; purchasing policies; national waste issues)
Business waste (Business Waste Challenge; Ecobusiness)
Construction waste
Infrastructure and services (Resource Recovery Estates; education centre; changed contract arrangements at disposal sites)
Research and development (priority is for reprocessing technology for mixed residual solid waste)
Regulation and incentives (waste pricing; Development Control Code)
Monitoring and review

In 2005 the ACT Auditor-General's Office conducted a performance audit on ecologically sustainable development (ACT Auditor-General's Office 2005). The report identified the following actions specifically related to waste, some of which have been implemented:

  • the adoption, in 2003, of a policy for ecologically sustainable tourism that stipulated waste minimisation
  • cost savings from the Waste Wise program in ACT Government schools designed to recover a high percentage of recyclables
  • consultation between the (then) Canberra Stadiums Authority and ACT NOWaste on recycling initiatives and appropriate signage for recycling at events held at the stadium – has been done with stadiums using a three-bin system, however, contamination is a significant issue
  • a requirement in the existing waste contract for Floriade that a contractor not dispose of recycled materials as landfill and the possibility of a requirement to report quantities of materials recycled and collected
  • a checklist developed by the Land Development Agency for greenfield developments, including preparation of waste minimisation plans aimed at reducing waste to landfill by 80% during construction and demolition stages through avoidance, reuse and recycling strategies
  • government procurement principles that included preference for products, services and building design and construction that minimised waste and conserved resources.

Implementation of the Turning Waste into Resources Action Plan was consistent with the state of the environment reporting period. A brief report showing progress follows.

Community engagement

  • Waste Wise Schools – converted into Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) very successful (see the snapshot.
  • No Waste Awards – commenced November 2004 and held annually; the number of entries increases each year.
  • Public event/place recycling – A guide on recycling at public events developed and distributed to major event organisers. Inconclusive trial on recycling in public places conducted in Glebe Park in 2007. Recycling in public places was also an action in the 2000–02 The Next Step action plan.
  • Community Programs – Second-hand Sunday; composting workshops/displays; progress reports. All well established over time and now regular/annual occurrences.
  • Permanent No Waste education centre at Hume – limited progress.

Government leadership

  • ACT Government Leadership Committee – established in 2005 but did not proceed.
  • Purchasing policies – Green Purchasing Guide, partially completed by Procurement Solutions. (Procurement Solutions also did a considerable amount of work on a similar guide some years ago.)
  • The climate change strategy, Weathering the Change, requires all ACT Government agencies to develop resource management plans that should include waste management.
  • National waste issues – ACT continued participation in National Packaging Covenant including development of a five-year action plan of initiatives to be implemented during 2005–10; ACT representative on National Waste Working Group.

Business waste

  • Business Waste Challenge – 2004–06 release of a guide to recycling for ACT businesses, providing advisory services; a one-off television advertisement encouraging businesses to recycle; Business Waste Reduction strategy commissioned; new approach to business waste as a result of integration of programs for water, energy and waste under a single banner.
  • Ecobusiness – no progress.

Construction waste

  • Major construction and demolition recycling operation established on the old West Belconnen Landfill.
  • Specific requirement for new resource recovery contractor at Mugga Lane to accept and process construction and demolition waste; expected 95% recovery of construction and demolition materials for re-use and recycling.
  • Smaller-scale skip bin operation established in the Hume Resource Recovery Estate.
  • Pressure for creating a site for virgin excavated material reduced through high demand for such material. Arrangements made for acceptance of clean fill at Mugga Lane from smaller operators on a fee-for-service basis.

Infrastructure and services

  • The ACT Government has developed the Hume Resource Recovery Estate to support growth and further development of the private sector resource recovery industry. The government expects to release the estate land around May 2008 under a model that will allow both land sales and sub-leasing. The estate will target resource recovery businesses that will result in diversion of waste currently going to landfill, such as food and compostable organics, mixed business waste and problematic wastes.
  • The Education Centre at the Materials Recovery Facility is frequently used for school tours, open days and for meetings and tours.
  • Changed contract arrangements at disposal sites (active from 1 July 2007) – increasing resource recovery through Mitchell and Mugga resource management centres; specific recovery services at Mitchell, including metals, timber, concrete and computers; new services at Mugga Resource Management Centre for resource recovery and requirements for specific materials to be recovered and targets for recovery (Table A.4).

Research and development 14

  • Continued monitoring of development of mixed solid waste technologies in Australia and internationally. Disappointing record of accomplishment, even of recently established technologies, leading to consideration of other options involving more source separation. Update of mixed solid waste technologies being undertaken as part of a review of No Waste goals and targets.
  • Continued work with local industry operators to help establish sustainable markets with significant success in organic compost products market and expanding the market for recycled aggregates in line with increased supplies. Continued identification and development of markets for other recovered materials including wood wastes and glass fines.

Regulation and incentives

  • Waste pricing – implementation of waste pricing strategy continuing with annual increases made in business waste charges. The government intends implementing differential charges soon to discourage dumping of wastes that contain a high percentage of recyclable materials.
  • Development Control Code reviewed in 2005–06 and revised code drafted. Release of new code planned to coincide with new planning reform process by the ACT Planning and Land Authority

Monitoring and review

  • Continuing annual surveys of resource recovery businesses and analysis of waste to landfill results and regular audits of domestic waste streams but a complete inventory of wastes to landfill was not undertaken.
Table A.2: Waste to landfilla by type/stream (tonnes), 1994–95 to 2006–07
Waste type 1994–95 1995–96 1996–97 1997–98 1998–99 1999–00 2000–01 2001–02 2002–03 2003–04 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07
ACT household collected 39,588 39,668 41,671 44,515 45,026 48,407 51,145 51,472 52,604 51,316 52,109 54,612 57,277
Asbestos 679 831 942 484 809 699 742 623 865 1,395 1,134 1,642 4,495d
Building and demolition 70,597 66,358 58,249 50,469 63,743 74,118 70,345 52,400 27,358 32,338 29,735 22,221 20,792
Business including industrialb 69,032 69,958 70,727 73,326 78,298 63,315 62,787 75,436 88,041 86,966 77,069 79,591 85,156
Clean fill 4,361 3,406 2,499 696 461 1,506 255 639 119 11 2 98 107
Garden waste 8,074 7,745 6,587 5,962 4,422 7,417 3,847 6,738 5,182 2,998 3,469 2,969 372
Private delivery 64,640 51,072 44,050 43,041 45,497 49,542 22,072 22,339 21,568 22,833 28,709 21,389 20,521
Queanbeyan household collected 9,481 8,789 9,025 8,832 9,550 9,176 7,523 7,715 7,771 8,020 7,788 8,033 7,372
Special wastec 5,135 3,682 3,521 1,2240 4,645 4,023 4,494 1,346 1,779 1,130 3,053 835 888
Tyres 468 551 711 161 235 880 1,015 1,619 1,780 1,382 1,328 921 551
Total 272,054 252,068 237,981 239,726 252,686 259,084 224,225 220,328 207,067 208,390 204,396 192,311 197,425

Notes: a Includes volumes for Queanbeyan household collections.
b Business – includes deliveries of metal floc from Sydney (1997–98, 6095 tonnes; 1998–99, 9197 tonnes; 1999–2000, 5438 tonnes).
c Special waste (contaminated soil, ash, sullage, etc.) – 1997–98 includes contaminated soil from sheep dip sites clean up (9735 tonnes).
d ACT NOWaste believes this increase relates to specific demolition/renewal work done in 2006–07 and is not an indication of a trend in volumes of asbestos.
Source: ACT NOWaste, Territory and Municipal Services – data derived from landfill database.

Table A.3: Resource recovery by type/stream (tonnes), 1994–95 to 2006–07
Product 1994–95 1995–96 1996–97 1997–98 1998–99 1999–00 2000–01 2001–02 2002–03 2003–04 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07
Aluminium 280 200 189 180 180 135 106 104 205 418 811 1,323 1,548
Clothing 1,850 1,585 1,181 2,145 2,473 2,819 2,780 3,185 3,810 4,580 4,238 4,455 4,505
Cooking oil and fat 600 754 687 360 535 595 601 629 879 725 850 1,803 776
Demolition 48,400 55,389 82,848 88,873 154,241 156,774a 156,606 188,191 222,760 232,507 241,956 221,836 182,898
Garden/compost 35,500 65,190 85,640 79,056 107,848 117,592 130,446 132,983 163,379 181,639 197,748 208,606 223,415
Glass 7,100 7,795 7,756 7,180 7,093 7,442 8,224 8,347 7,856 6,872 10,195 12,087 13,261
Liquid-paperboard 240 251 229 187 175a 160 98 67 80 31 e e e
Metals ferrous 4,700 5,541 5,514 3,536 3,350 4,537 4,782 7,463 11,021 17,689 20,464 28,461 32,989
Motor oil 1,400 1,935 2,669 2,415 3,172 2,169 3,190 4,069 2,546 3,014 1,747 2,017 3,997
Otherc 1,325 1,083 2,606 2,470 4,820 7,748 20,597 29,472 48,843
Paper/cardboard 31,500 37,124 37,466 39,249 41,974 39,727 37,147 42,257 44,560 42,624 46,923 54,576 49,493
Rigid plasticsd 580 868 865 1,281 1,265 1,167 1,286 1,462 1,407 1,395 1,373 1,427 1,378
Salvage and reuse 3,920 7,000 4,451 5,086 6,459 6,970 6,173 6,995 2,610 4,445 7,259 12,510 2,595
Steel cans 500 826 877 789 798 728 734 746 673 753 775 867 934
Total 136,570 184,458b 230,372 230,337a 330,888a 341,898a 354,779 398,967 466,604 504,440 554,936 579,440 566,633

Notes:
a Results have been revised from previous published data.
b 1995–96 results have been revised from earlier published data based on ACT Waste Inventory study results.
c Includes animal wastes, film plastics, sullage, batteries, paint, timber and tyres.
d Includes PET, HDPE, PVC.
e Included in Paper/cardboard.
Source: ACT NOWaste, Territory and Municipal Services – compiled from data provided by ACT Resource Recovery industries. Not all recycling data is received and care should be taken with use and interpretation of results.

Table A.4: Annual ACT NOWaste funding, 1996–97 to 2006–07
1996–97 1997–98 1998–99 1999–00 2000–01 2001–02 2002–03 2003–04 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07
Outputs funding ($'000) 12,677.5 14,047.0 14,400.0 14,656.0 15,039.1 16,421.3 17,960.8 17,842.4 17,711.5 17,790.0 18,341.0*
Increase from previous year (%) 10.8% 2.5% 1.8% 3.6% 9.1% 9.0% –0.6% –0.7%% 0.4% 3.0%
Comparative CPI (%) 0.7% 0.2% 2.8% 6.0% 3.7% 2.6% 2.6% 2.3% 3.5% 3.0%

Note: Outputs funding covers provision of waste management services (household collection of garbage and recycling), implementation of the No Waste by 2010 strategy, development of the resource recovery industry in the ACT, and any other costs associated with administration and function of ACT NOWaste. It does not include funding identified in annual Budget Papers for capital works or construction projects for infrastructure associated with waste management, which are funded separately and are dependent on the success of submissions for Budget funding in competition with other submissions.
* This figure includes $521,000 for the waste component of integrated sustainability programs and policy, which was separately identified in the Budget for the first time, following incorporation of ACT NOWaste into the Sustainability program. Funds for waste policy were previously part of the outputs funding for ACT NOWaste.
Source: ACT NOWaste

Notes

1 Total waste stream is the combined tonnages of waste to landfill, recycling and garden organic streams. It is an indication of the volumes of materials discarded by society.

2 Further details are on the TAMS website at <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/live/Recycling_and_Waste/recyclingandwastecentres>.

3 Mugga Lane Landfill is the main repository for waste generated in the ACT and Queanbeyan. (West Belconnen Landfill was closed in May 2002). Separate data are kept for Queanbeyan household collections deposited in Mugga Lane Landfill, but volumes for other waste types generated in Queanbeyan/nearby New South Wales (especially private deliveries) are not. Recycling services are provided at Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre, Mitchell Resource Management Centre and Parkwood Road Recycling Estate, see <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/live/Recycling_and_Waste/recyclingandwastecentres>. Queanbeyan manages its own recycling services for which statistics are held separately. Private deliveries can be made to Mugga Lane Landfill and Mitchell Resource Management Centre, see <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/live/Recycling_and_Waste/recyclingandwastecentres>. The staged introduction of tip fees for private deliveries commenced in January 1996.

4 The 2005–06 review of the ACT public sector and services 'found that the goals set out in the No Waste by 2010 strategy developed by the former government are not achievable within current budget allocations'. (ACT Government 2007:27).

5 This is a simple calculation based on six years' expected life at 200,000 tonnes per year = 1,200,000 tonnes divided by 76,000 = 15–16. It does not take into account an increasing total waste stream until such time as the 90% might be achieved, hence the 'perhaps up to 10 years'.

6 Reviews of reports from jurisdictions around Australia indicate that 75% is the highest recovery effort to date.

7 Reliable data on number of services for the previous reporting period prevents comparison. Also, while discrete data are maintained on household collected waste to landfill, no discrete data are maintained for household kerbside recycling, thus preventing calculation of recycling per household.

8 Data indicate that resource recovery also decreased in 2006–07. However, it is known that the 2006–07 total for resource recovery does not include data from one of the larger operators. As a result, resource recovery for that year may not have decreased. Following an audit of waste measurements by the Auditor-General, ACT NOWaste now qualifies waste recovery data with a statement to the effect that all recycling data may not have been received and care should be taken with use and interpretation of results.

9 This assessment is based on the lead-time for design, planning and construction for the recently completed Mugga Lane landfill cell.

10 'Plastic bags are particularly noticeable components of the litter stream due to their size and can take a long time to fully break down', see <http://www.environment.gov.au/settlements/waste/plastic-bags/index.html>

11 Group One Retailers include major supermarkets and chain members. Group Two Retailers are defined by the ARA as all other retailers using lightweight HDPE bags (e.g. convenience stores, takeaway food outlets, liquor stores, chemists, newsagents, hardware stores, clothing and general stores, see <http://www.environment.gov.au/settlements/publications/waste/plastic-bags/planet-ark/reducing.html>

12  See <http://www.tams.act.gov.au/live/city_rangers>

13 This is a simple calculation based on 6 years' expected life at 200,000/year = 1,200,000 divided by 76,000 = 15–16. It does not take into account increasing total waste stream until such time as the 90% might be achieved, hence the 'perhaps up to 10 years'.

14 Priority is for reprocessing technology for mixed residual solid waste (No Waste by 2010: turning waste into resources - Action Plan 2004-07, p. 10).

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