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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 decreased from about 1.28 million tonnes in 2012-2013 to about 1.21 million tonnes in 2014-2015.

Household waste recovered or recycled

Between 2010-2011 and 2014-2015 the amount of glass and plastic being sent for recycling by councils increased by about 6,500 tonnes and 6,900 tonnes respectively, although paper and cardboard recycling declined by about 24,000 tonnes.

Per capita waste generation

Adjusting for population levels, the amounts of waste landfilled per capita in all regions were roughly comparable. In general the rates of disposal per capita were higher in remote Queensland.

Pressure

Interstate household waste received

In 2014-2015, about 45,000 tonnes of household 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.

State of Waste and Recycling in Queensland report

The State of Waste and Recycling 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 1,493,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste landfilled in 2014-2015 was about 93,000 tonnes lower than in the previous year but about 644,000 tonnes more than in 2011-2012.

Construction and demolition waste recovered or recycled

The amount of construction and demolition waste recovered rose from about 949,000 tonnes in 2011-2012 to about 1,807,000 tonnes in 2014-2015.

Pressure

Interstate construction and demolition waste received

About 259,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste generated interstate was transported to Queensland landfills for disposal in 2014-2015.

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.

State of Waste and Recycling in Queensland report

The State of Waste and Recycling 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 1.518 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste landfilled in 2014-2015 was similar to the amounts reported in previous years.

Commercial and industrial waste recovered or recycled

The 1.069 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste recovered or recycled in 2014-2015 was a decrease of about 241,000 tonnes on the amount reported in 2013-2014.

Pressure

Interstate commercial and industrial waste received

In 2014-2015, about 22,000 tonnes 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.

State of Waste and Recycling in Queensland report

The State of Waste and Recycling 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

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 shopping centres, retail strips and highways. Average litter items at shopping centres and highway sites in Queensland have increased in recent surveys, in contrast to the general decline in the number of litter items.

Main material types littered

Cigarette butts are the most common type of litter although they make up only a very small fraction of the total volume of litter. Glass is the least prevalent litter type; there is a relatively high number and volume of plastic waste items.

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.

State of Waste and Recycling in Queensland report

The State of Waste and Recycling 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

In 2014-2015, 63% of trackable waste (by waste amount) disposed to landfill in Queensland was in the high level waste category of ‘solid and sludge wastes requiring special handling’.

Trackable waste recovered

In 2014-2015, 52% of the trackable waste (by waste amount) recovered (which includes recycling, reclamation, direct re-use or alternative use of the waste) in Queensland was in the high level category of ‘putrescible and organic wastes’.

Pressure

Interstate trackable waste received

About 87% of the trackable waste received in Queensland from other Australian states and territories in 2014-2015 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.

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Last updated
1 March 2017