Waste Dilemma: A Series Looking into Australia’s Waste Landscape

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Waste Dilemma: A Series Looking into Australia’s Waste Landscape

March 19, 2024

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The vast landscape of Australia is home to distinct marine and wildlife species, wondrous scenery, and diverse communities. But there exists a threat to the status quo in the country. The crisis is unfolding—proper disposal and waste management. The challenge also lies in solving the concern about overconsumption and production.

The waste narrative in Australia goes beyond figures and statistics; it unveils a story of constant challenge as the population rises and consumerism emerges. This emphasises the urgency of adopting a sustainable waste management system. The core of the issue is exploring the complexity of the nation’s waste management landscape.

From urban areas to remote sites, the dilemma influences industries, decision-makers, businesses, and specialists, leading to the formation of sustainable solutions that transform the waste landscape and looking into the perspectives of industries and businesses in contributing to the circular economy.

Australia’s landscape unfolds the alarming increase in plastic waste. Because of the growth in population followed by a huge appetite among consumers, there has been a surge in consumption of plastic materials, which raises adverse issues concerning public health, safety, economic disparity, and environmental risks.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a staggering 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated, with a mere 9% finding its way to recycling facilities. The majority, a daunting 84%, ends up in landfills, casting shadows not just in macro landscapes but posing a great threat to our food and water sources. As consumption and production continue to rise, the plastic waste problem is expected to worsen if industries fail to transition adopting sustainable solutions for processing single-use plastics and containers.

The issue of plastic waste is just the surface of the nation’s waste narrative. As technological advancement poses opportunities, there’s also an underlying implication of potential harm for the public. The plot thickens with the problem of e-waste disposal. The lack of awareness and proper disposal practices for e-waste creates risk and damage to our environment.

The absence of designated disposal sites for electronic waste amplifies hazardous footprints and contamination, underscoring the need for a framework to eliminate the possible environmental risks and prevent further damage to the economy.

The narrative continues as landfills remain a major disposal site in the country. Relying heavily on landfills has a substantial negative impact on the environment. Stockpiling and overpopulation create these impacts and might result in land pollution, gas emissions, public hazards, and health risks. It’s more than just a detrimental effect on society; it’s posing greater harm to our well-being and lifestyle.

The Australian waste landscape doesn’t just concern the country; it also extends globally. Waste exports are a major concern, involving not only the nation but the global market as well. Inadequate recycling infrastructure in different nations contributes to the potential risk of improper waste processing and disposal. The exported waste materials encompass a broad spectrum – glass, paper, plastics, and tires.

On the other hand, the Australian government has been regulating waste exports to minimise the negative impact of these waste materials. The regulation ensures that there’s a proper exportation of processed waste resources to prevent them from being dumped overseas. With this being highly environmentally friendly, it also opens economic opportunities in the country, like creating jobs, equipping industries, and building a better environment and community.

Transforming the waste narrative requires more than just regulations. The 2018 National Waste Policy provides a framework for businesses, governments, communities, and individuals to develop technologies and embrace innovations in creating solutions and possibilities. The policy primarily focuses on avoiding waste, improving material recovery, and utilising recovered materials.

With this framework, Australia is more than capable of shifting to a circular economy, given the collective efforts of businesses, institutions, and consumers. Plastic recycling initiatives will reduce the amount of plastic material being disposed of. The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Waste (DCCEEW) mentioned that individuals and businesses can prevent plastic waste by stopping plastic at its source—avoiding plastics that can’t be recycled, plastic packaging, and single-use plastics.

Similarly, by investing in disposal and recycling infrastructures, industries can minimise large volumes of waste materials while increasing the recycling rate and targeting specific waste resources like e-waste. These infrastructures will also greatly help divert landfill waste to avoid overpopulation and stockpiling, leading to better environmental implications.

The Australian waste industry acknowledges the current waste landscape faced by the country’s waste management system. Thus, companies are now actively promoting technological solutions and innovative equipment to combat the pressing issue of waste. In addition, waste management experts also play a vital role in contributing to the circular economy by adopting sustainable practices, which help promote government programs and initiatives and raise awareness about macro-issues such as climate change and coastal issues.

Waste management is more than just putting your garbage into the right bins; it requires collective action from industries, policymakers, and consumers. Although there are primary challenges facing Australia’s waste landscape, industries and institutions provide sustainable solutions and initiatives to contribute to the circular economy.

The key to changing the waste narrative is by adopting sustainable technological solutions and innovative equipment. Finding the right partner with the same goal can help businesses and industries with their waste management journey.

Wastech Engineering stays true to its mission of being a major contributor to the nation’s circular economy. The company specialises in designing, engineering, and manufacturing a comprehensive range of equipment with a focus on sustainability and efficiency.

Learn more about Wastech solutions that can help your business achieve a circular economy here.

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