Australia ‘four times as wasteful as Europe’

The volume of waste produced, recycling rates and value of the industry in Australia have been published for the first time - and show that the average Australian throws away four times as much as the average European.

Australians are, on the whole, better at recycling, however.

Although the figures are slightly dated – they track the stats for 2006/07 – they give a good broad brush picture of the state of waste in the country.

The National Waste Report 2010 was drawn up as the first step towards delivering a national waste policy, agreed by environment ministers from all the states and territories last November.

According to the report, the waste and recycling sector is worth A$7bn to A$11.5bn and the nation as a whole produces more than 44,000,000 tonnes of waste per annum.

99% of households claim to recycle their waste and the national recycling rate for municipal waste is just over 50%.

Europeans recycle around a third of their waste, though top performers like Germany and Holland manage recycling rates topping 65%.

The average Australian produces just over two tonnes of waste per year, around four times the European average.

“The policy and this report represent a fundamental shift in our approach to waste and complement broader government policies on climate change and sustainability,” said Australian environment minister Peter Garrett.

“We want to reduce the generation of waste and encourage a culture of recovery where waste becomes a valuable resource.

“The Government is already tacking action to tackle e-waste with a new industry-run national collection and recycling scheme for computer and television waste set to commence next year.

“Work is also underway to deal with used tyres and spent fluorescent light tubes and this report will help guide future actions.”

Sam Bond

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