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Waste

Key messages

Why waste management is important

We manage waste to protect human health and environmental quality, and to improve the efficient use of resources. Waste is generated by economic activity. The management of waste is typically reported in terms of three source streams—household waste; commercial and industrial waste; and construction and demolition waste. Litter and illegal dumping and trackable waste are also source streams. The effectiveness of the waste management sector is demonstrated in the rates of resource recovery for relevant source streams. The amount of waste that has been recovered and disposed of is an indicator of the sustainability of society’s use of resources.

Impact of litter and illegal dumping

Litter and illegally dumped items are the most visible indicators of pollution in our environment. The waste from litter and illegal dumping can be present in both natural and built environments. This can reduce aesthetic values and visual amenity, reduce environmental values, cause significant harm to wildlife through ingestion or entanglement with waste, help spread pests and weeds, and degrade natural areas. The costs associated with this practice can include expenditure for prevention, compliance, clean up and disposal.

Understanding the problem

Information about amounts of litter at different locations over time, such as that provided by the National Litter Index, gives valuable insights into where to prioritise actions in addressing this issue. Further information is needed to understand the underlying reasons for this behaviour, along with information on the nature and extent of illegal dumping. Collectively, this information enables evidence-based decision-making to support projects that influence positive behaviours in the disposal of waste and a reduction in the amount of litter and illegally dumped items in Queensland.

Waste tracking

Waste tracking enables regulated waste to be tracked from its source to place of storage, recovery or disposal. We do this to ensure all parties involved are managing waste responsibly and that the waste is transported and received by authorised waste handlers. Waste tracking prevents the inappropriate management of regulated waste and illegal waste dumping which could harm the environment.

Key findings—Household

State

Household waste landfilled

The amount of domestic kerbside waste sent to landfill increased from about 1.21 million tonnes in 2014-2015 to about 1.26 million tonnes in 2016-2017.

Household waste recovered or recycled

Between 2012–2013 and 2016–2017 the amounts of glass and plastic sent for recycling by councils increased by about 22,600t and 6,500t respectively, while the amount of steel cans sent for recycling declined by about 600t.

Per capita waste generation

Adjusting for population levels, Queensland households generated an average of 556kg of waste per capita in 2016–2017, ranging from 390kg in the Cairns region to 680kg in Remote Queensland.

Pressure

Interstate household waste received

In 2016–2017, about 53,000t of household waste generated interstate was transported to Queensland for disposal.

Programs

Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS)

The Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS) is a web-based system for operators to report on their waste data returns. The system has been enhanced to allow for the expanded capture of information about waste disposal and resource recovery.

Recycling and waste in Queensland report

The Recycling and waste in Queensland report includes information gathered each year through the Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS) annual survey. It is a guide of the state of waste in that year and the results are assessed against the targets set in the Waste Strategy.

Key findings—Construction and demolition

State

Construction and demolition waste landfilled

The 2.146 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste landfilled in 2016–2017 was about 261,000t more than the amount landfilled in the previous year, and about 1.297 million tonnes more than in 2011–2012.

Construction and demolition waste recovered or recycled

The amount of construction and demolition waste recovered increased by 133%, rising from about 949,000t in 2011–12 to about 2.212 million tonnes in 2016–2017.

Pressure

Interstate construction and demolition waste received

About 640,000t of construction and demolition waste generated interstate was transported to Queensland landfills for disposal in 2016–2017.

Programs

Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS)

The Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS) is a web-based system for operators to report on their waste data returns. The system has been enhanced to allow for the expanded capture of information about waste disposal and resource recovery.

Recycling and waste in Queensland report

The Recycling and waste in Queensland report includes information gathered each year through the Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS) annual survey. It is a guide of the state of waste in that year and the results are assessed against the targets set in the Waste Strategy.

Key findings—Commercial and industrial

State

Commercial and industrial waste landfilled

The 1.443 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste landfilled in 2016–2017 was similar to the amounts reported in previous years.

Commercial and industrial waste recovered or recycled

Between 2015–2016 and 2016–2017, the amount of commercial and industrial waste recovered or recycled increased by 1,500t (0.1%) to 1.319 million tonnes.

Pressure

Interstate commercial and industrial waste received

In 2016–2017, about 23,000t of commercial and industrial waste generated interstate was transported to Queensland landfills for disposal.

Programs

Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS)

The Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS) is a web-based system for operators to report on their waste data returns. The system has been enhanced to allow for the expanded capture of information about waste disposal and resource recovery.

Recycling and waste in Queensland report

The Recycling and waste in Queensland report includes information gathered each year through the Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS) annual survey. It is a guide of the state of waste in that year and the results are assessed against the targets set in the Waste Strategy.

Key findings—Litter and illegal dumping

State

Pressure

Number of litter items in Queensland

The average number of litter items at urban sites in Queensland has been consistently higher than the average across Australia. There has been a gradual decline in the number of litter items and volume of litter recorded since 2005 in both Queensland and Australia.

Number of litter items for different site types

The average number of litter items is higher in Queensland than Australia across all site types particularly beaches, retail strips, highways and recreational areas. Average litter items at shopping centres in Queensland have decreased in recent surveys.

Main material types littered

Cigarette butts, while contributing a very small fraction to litter volume, are the most common type of litter.  Glass is the least prevalent litter type. Plastic waste items are high in number and volume.

Illegal dumping in Queensland

Illegal dumping is defined in Queensland as the unlawful depositing of 200 litres or more of waste.

Programs

National Litter Index

The National Litter Index is an annual quantitative measure of what litter occurs where and in what volume. The initiative is run by Keep Australia Beautiful.

Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS)

The Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS) is a web-based system for operators to report on their waste data returns. The system has been enhanced to allow for the expanded capture of information about waste disposal and resource recovery.

Recycling and waste in Queensland report

The Recycling and waste in Queensland report includes information gathered each year through the Queensland Waste Data System (QWDS) annual survey. It is a guide of the state of waste in that year and the results are assessed against the targets set in the Waste Strategy.

Key findings—Trackable waste

State

Trackable waste landfilled

Solid and sludge wastes requiring special handling, categorised as high-level waste, made up 58% of trackable waste disposed to landfill in Queensland in 2015–2016.

Trackable waste recovered

Putrescible and organic wastes made up 46% of trackable wastes recovered for recycling, reclamation, direct re-use or alternative use in Queensland in 2015–2016.

Pressure

Interstate trackable waste received

About 93% of the trackable waste received in Queensland from other Australian states and territories in 2015–2016 came from New South Wales.

Programs

Waste Tracking Database

The Waste Tracking Database is an internal departmental system capturing all trackable waste data required under the Environmental Protection Regulation 2008. The data is provided to the department as commercial-in-confidence. Summary information is provided for inclusion into the State of Waste Report, State of Environment Report, the annual report for National Environmental Protection (Movement of Controlled Waste between States and Territories) Measure 1998 and the annual Basel Convention Report.

Last updated 26 October 2018