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Apr 23

Australia’s Attitude Towards Recycling: Facts and Statistics

recycling - tree head

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

The Australian recycling sector plays an integral role in the Australian economy and society. For Australia to achieve the full potential of the resources and maximize the full value of materials, a robust and essential recycling system is essential. The sector is even more critical to the success of the Australian Government`s goals as outlined in the National Waste Policy that insists on less waste and allocation of additional resources.

Often, the level of waste generation is as a result of the population growth rate, per capita income and urbanization. By 2016, Australia’s population reached 24 million, with more than 85% of the population living in the urban cities. This translated to the production of more than 50M tons of waste every year, averaging 2 tons per head.

However, on a positive note, the rapid increase in the waste materials has led to an increasingly waste recycling culture. Since 2005, there has been a decline in the tonnage waste sent to landfill. Australia recycles approximately 58% of its waste products.

Role of the Australian Government

The national and local authorities have played a vital role in the success of the recycling culture. Below are some of the policies that the authorities have implemented to buoy the recycling ethos.

1)    Levies

Many states across Australia have been consistently increasing the landfill levies (taxes paid to firms and companies to send waste to the landfill). This is in a bid to push for recycling of the waste rather than sending it to the landfill.

The effect of the levies on dump companies has seen their operational cost rise from a mere 1% to 5%. While this might seem negligible, the long run cost of incurring the expenses is high and equate to a substantial hit on EBITDA and profits.

2)    Economies of recycling

Most of the Australian states with compulsory landfill levies are allocating a proportion of the levies to support recycling projects. They are also offering grants, subsidies and providing financial support to the recycling firms.

For example, NWS, which charges $1.33.10 per ton of waste delivered to the landfill, introduced a four-year recycling support program dubbed as the “Waste less, Recycle more.” The grant program aims at providing all recycling firms that offer a range of services with real financial aid, infrastructure and support their innovation programs.

3)    Setting of targets

The local Australian governments have come up with targets aimed at achieving less waste dumping activities. Some of the most common goods recycled in Australia include paper and cardboard, glass, newspaper, organics, steel and aluminum, e-wastes and fluorescent tubes.

One of the main challenge facing the waste recycling programs in Australia is the fact that the sector has a rich capital investment appetite. The government has not been able to fully fund the recycling project and has not created an adequate system to curb the waste disposal menace.

Another major factor is the general perception of recycled products by the general public. For example, many Australians have trust issues with recycled products due to lack of adequate information about recycled products or damaging past experiences with recycled products.

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