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Waste sector greenhouse gas emissions

Key Finding

In 2018, emissions from the waste sector contributed 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), or 2% of Queensland’s total emissions. Emissions increased by 1% between 2005 and 2018, however waste emissions have fallen since 2013 due to increased capture and combustion of landfill gas.

Waste emissions include methane from the breakdown of solid wastes at a landfill, biological treatment of solid wastes, incineration and burning of waste, wastewater treatment and discharge and other sources (e.g. emissions arising from flaring of methane at a landfill site).

Emissions were 2.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in 2018. This represents 2% of Queensland’s total emissions.

  • This compares with 3.3 MtCO2e in 1990.
  • In 2005, emissions were 2.6 MtCO2e.

The main sources of waste-related emissions in 2018 are:

  • landfill (solid waste disposal) (70%)
  • solid waste including domestic and industrial wastewater treatment (27%).

Improvements in landfill waste treatment, due to increased capture and combustion of landfill gas, since 2015 has seen a reduction in gas emissions from this source.

The biological treatment of solid waste (2%) through processes such as windrow composting commonly used in farm scale and enclosed anaerobic digestion is an emerging treatment pathway and emissions have grown 97% since 2005 levels. Incineration and open burning of waste contributed 0.3% emissions in 2018.

Queensland has the third highest share of emissions from the waste sector behind NSW and Victoria.

More information:

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals’ targets

  • GOAL 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
  • GOAL 11: SUSTAINABLE CITIES AND COMMUNITIES
  • GOAL 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

Proportion of waste emissions by state, 2018

  • Chart
  • Table
StateEmissions (million tonnes)
New South Wales4.275
Victoria2.586
Queensland2.581
Western Australia1.638
South Australia0.963
Tasmania0.354
Northern Territory0.167
Australian Capital Territory0.123

Proportion of Queensland’s waste emissions by category, 2018

  • Chart
  • Table
CategoryEmissions (million tonnes)
Solid waste disposal1.810
Waste water treatment and discharge0.708
Biological treatment of solid waste0.056
Incineration and open burning of waste0.006

Trends in Queensland’s waste emissions, by category

  • Chart
  • Table
YearSolid waste disposalBiological treatment of solid wasteIncineration and open burning of wasteWaste water treatment and discharge
19912.4210.0050.0280.866
19922.4450.0070.0280.837
19932.4860.0080.0280.808
19942.5350.0100.0280.780
19952.4930.0120.0280.739
19962.3600.0130.0040.695
19972.4330.0150.0040.658
19982.4100.0160.0040.624
19992.3770.0180.0040.610
20002.3520.0200.0040.630
20012.3770.0210.0050.668
20022.2630.0230.0050.660
20032.0510.0250.0050.637
20041.9850.0270.0050.649
20051.8700.0290.0050.654
20061.8010.0310.0050.662
20072.0800.0330.0050.677
20082.2140.0360.0060.680
20092.3810.0380.0060.741
20102.3980.0430.0060.711
20112.5240.0500.0060.661
20122.0220.0510.0060.714
20132.1800.0520.0060.779
20142.0480.0530.0060.755
20152.1430.0530.0060.677
20162.1280.0550.0060.708
20171.9830.0550.0060.690
20181.8100.0560.0060.708

Queensland’s total waste emissions

YearEmissions (million tonnes)
19913.320
19923.317
19933.331
19943.353
19953.272
19963.072
19973.110
19983.055
19993.010
20003.007
20013.071
20022.951
20032.718
20042.665
20052.559
20062.500
20072.795
20082.935
20093.165
20103.157
20113.241
20122.793
20133.017
20142.861
20152.880
20162.897
20172.735
20182.581

Download data from Queensland Government data

Metadata

Queensland annual greenhouse gas emissions in millions of tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent from 1990–2018 by waste sector. Source: Australian Greenhouse Emissions Information System, Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.