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Cans © The State of Queensland

Waste

Key Messages

  • 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.

  • The principles of a circular economy aim to use resources at their highest value for as long as possible, helping retain materials in the economy and reduce the amount of waste generated and disposed of. Examples include rethinking product design to allow for reuse, repair and remanufacture before recycling or energy recovery.

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

Household

State

Household waste landfilled

The amount of domestic kerbside waste sent to landfill decreased from about 1.26 million tonnes in 2016–17 to 1.20 million tonnes in 2018–19.

Household waste recovered or recycled

The amount of household waste recovered by councils during 2014–15 to 2018–19 averaged 818,000 tonnes per year.

Per capita waste generation

Queensland households generated an average of 514kg of waste per capita in 2018–19.

Pressure

Interstate household waste received

In 2018–19, about 67,400 tonnes of household waste generated interstate was transported to Queensland for disposal.

Resources

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.

Construction and demolition

State

Construction and demolition waste landfilled

In 2018–19, 2.21 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste was sent to landfill. This is 385,000 tonnes (15%) less than in the previous year, and about 714,000 tonnes (48%) more than in 2014–15.

Construction and demolition waste recovered or recycled

The amount of construction and demolition waste recovered increased by 59% between 2014–15 and 2018–19, rising from about 1.81 million tonnes in 2014–15 to about 2.87 million tonnes in 2018–19.

Pressure

Interstate construction and demolition waste received

While about 794,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste generated interstate was transported to Queensland landfills for disposal, Queensland recyclers received a further 61,000 tonnes of interstate construction and demolition waste in 2018–19.

Resources

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.

Commercial and industrial

State

Commercial and industrial waste landfilled

The 1.61 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste landfilled in 2018–19 was 121,000 tonnes greater than the average amount landfilled during 2014–15 to 2017–18.

Commercial and industrial waste recovered or recycled

The 1.60 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste recovered or recycled in 2018–19 was 16% greater than the amount reported in 2017–18.

Pressure

Interstate commercial and industrial waste received

Queensland landfills received about 25,000 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste generated interstate in 2018–19.

Resources

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.

Litter and illegal dumping

State

Pressure

Number of litter items in Queensland

Since sampling under the National Litter Index commenced in 2005–06, Queensland has generally experienced higher average litter counts than the National average. However the average numbered of litter items has been trending down over this time period for both Queensland and nationally.

Number of litter items for different site types

In 2018–19, the average number of litter items was higher in Queensland than Australia across a majority of site types, particularly at beaches, highways, recreational parks and shopping centres. The notable exceptions to this were both industrial and retail strips which were both lower than the comparative national average.

Main material types littered

In 2018–19, plastic items replaced cigarette butts as the most common littered items in Queensland. However, cigarette butts continue to be a significant litter load in the environment, despite contributing a very small fraction to litter volume.

Illegal dumping in Queensland

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

Resources

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.

Trackable waste

State

Trackable waste landfilled

Solid and sludge wastes continue to be the highest category of waste being landfilled in Queensland, accounting for about 64% of all trackable waste to landfill.

Trackable waste recovered

Putrescible and organic wastes made up 37% of trackable wastes recovered for recycling, reclamation, direct re-use or alternative use in Queensland in 2018–19.

Pressure

Interstate trackable waste received

About 97% of the trackable waste received in Queensland from other Australian states and territories in 2018–19 came from New South Wales.

Resources

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.