20 Startling Waste & Landfill Statistics Australia (2022)

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Waste landfill statistics Australia

Australia is one of the most wasteful nations among the developed ones. We’re only second to Americans in terms of per capita plastic bags consumption. Besides the usual trash, mattresses, pillows, bed sheets and other bedding products also contribute a sizable chunk to the waste problem.

Although there are many recycling schemes across the country, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to waste reduction.

Did you know that Australia generates over 78 million tonnes of waste each year? Or that the average Australian produces over half a ton or 540 Kg household waste annually? That’s a whole lot of garbage!

In this post, we will look at some interesting statistics about waste and landfills in Australia. We’ll explore what types of materials are being thrown away, where our trash ends up, and the overall environmental impact.

Key Waste & Landfill Facts Australia

  1. Australia produces over 78 million tonnes of municipal solid waste each year. 29% (22.60 million tonnes) of it goes straight to landfill while only half is sent for recycling.
  2. An average Australian produces over half a ton (or 540 kgs) of trash each year. A typical Aussie household throws out over 1.20 tonnes of waste annually.
  3. Per capita, Australia consumes over 24 kg of plastic annually.
  4. Average Aussie uses over 230 plastic bags every year.
  5. The average Australian disposes 23 kg of clothing and textile waste every year.
  6. On average, 3.5 million tonnes of plastic waste is created in Australia every year. Households are the largest contributor accounting for 47% of total plastic waste.
  7. About 130,000 tonnes of plastic leaches into Australian waterways and oceans every year, equivalent to 1,280 kilograms of plastic dumped every hour in Australia’s ocean. 
  8. In 2020, only 12% of the plastic waste was actually recycled and 81% went into landfills.
  9. The average Aussie household wastes 28% of the food, which is estimated to be worth 3,000 AUD annually.
  10. Annually, Aussies use over a billion coffee cups, a billion single-use plastic bottles and 3 billion plastic straws. Most of these end up in landfills and are unrecyclable.
  11. 6000 kg of textile is dumped into landfills every 10 minutes in Australia.
  12. It’s estimated over 1.75 million mattresses are thrown out each year in Australia. While most mattresses are recyclable, still a majority of them end up in a landfill.
  13. In 2019, Australia generated 539,000 tonnes of e-waste, out of which Aussie households contributed 40%.

Facts about Waste

1) How much waste does Australia Produce?

In 2019, it was estimated that Australia produced over 76 million tonnes of waste or 1.4 kg per person per day.

The manufacturing and construction sector accounted for 25% of the trash while households contributed 20% of waste. About half of the generated waste (38 million tonnes) was sent for recycling, while 29% or 22.60 million tonnes went to landfills.

2. An average Australian produces over 540 kg of waste annually.

Each Aussie produces over 500 kg of waste every year, including 130 kilograms of plastic waste. When you look at this figure over an average lifetime, the average Australian produces over 45,000 kg of garbage.

3. Waste production is on the rise.

In 2017, 67 million tonnes of waste was generated in Australia, while in 2019, the total waste produced was 76 million tonnes – an alarming 13% rise in two years.

4. More than 3.5 million tonnes of plastic trash was generated in Australia in 2018-2019.

Of the total 78 million solid waste produced, plastic waste accounted for just 4% of waste. However, although this figure seems low, plastic is one of the most damaging materials to the planet. Only 12% of the plastic was sent for recycling, while 81% went to landfills.

5. The cost of food waste alone to the Australian economy is estimated to be around $20 billion each year.

Food waste is another big problem for Australians. In 2019, Aussies produced over 9 million tonnes of food waste costing the economy $20 billion.

6. In Australia, over 10 million plastic bags are used every day.

Data suggests Australia is only second to the United States in terms of per capita plastic bag consumption. Aussies consume over 10 million plastic bags daily, adding up to 3.5 billion plastic bags annually.

7. It is estimated that 15,000 bottles and cans are thrown away every single minute in Australia.

Many plastic bottles are single-use, meaning they amount to a considerable proportion of the waste that ends up in a landfill site. In Australia, 15,000 bottles and cans are thrown away every single minute, equal to 900,000 per hour, 21.6 million a day, and 7,884,000,000 each year.

8. Australians produce 3.3 million tonnes of food waste every year.

Of the total 3.3 million tonnes of food waste generated every year by Australians, 2.6 million tonnes come from households. That’s over 78% of food waste coming from homes in Australia.

9. The average Australian family creates 1.2 tonnes of food waste every year.

On average, Aussies waste 28% of the food. An average Australian household throws out 1.20 tonnes of food waste estimated to be worth 3,000 AUD.

10. 1.25 million mattresses are thrown out Annually.

Australians send 1.25 million mattresses to trash annually, which is enough to fill 270 Olympic swimming pools. Most of the mattresses disposed of are either innerspring or foam mattresses. Mattresses can be recycled. However, due to the higher associated cost of recycling, most of them end up in a landfill.

11. 6,000 kg of textile ends up in Australian landfills every 10 minutes.

In 2019, Australia produced over 250,000 tonnes of textile waste. To put this in perspective, this is sufficient to fill 190 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Clothes account for 60%, leather products 9%, household linen 18% and mattresses 3% of the total textile. Only 26% of the textile waste is recycled.

12. In 2019, 17 billion dollars was spent on waste services.

Australian businesses and governments are spending considerable money on waste collection, treatment, recycling disposal. The construction industry spent close to $2 billion, while the manufacturing sector spent $1.2 billion on waste services in 2019.

Landfill Statistics Australia: Where does the rubbish go?

12. In 2019, over 20.50 million tonnes of waste was dumped in landfills.

A large chunk of the total amount of waste produced by Australians ends up in a landfill. In fact, 6.7 million tonnes of food waste, 3.5 million tonnes of plastic, 4.6 million tonnes of hazardous waste are sent to landfills every year.

13. 81% of Australia’s used plastic is sent straight to landfills.

In 2019, 84% (2.94 million tonnes) of plastic waste in Australia was dumped in landfills. A staggeringly low figure of just 12% of plastic used by the Australian public is actually recycled. Considering there has been a massive push for recycling in Australia, there is still not enough being done to reduce, reuse and most importantly, recycle the plastic we are using.

Australian households are the leading contributor to our plastic waste problem, contributing 47% of the total plastic waste.

14. Australia used to export about 7% of all waste generated.

There is currently a ban on exporting waste; however, until March 2021, Australia was exporting around 7% or 5.32 million tonnes of waste every year to countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and China.

15. About 130,000 tonnes of Australian plastic ends up in Australian waterways and oceans each year.

Plastic is a massive issue for the world’s oceans and waterways, damaging animals as well as their habitats, leading to 100 million marine animal deaths each year from plastic waste. Australia contributes a vast amount of plastic to the oceans, around 130,000 tonnes every year!

16. As much as 95% of the plastic used in packaging is thrown out after just one use.

In Australia, 95% of plastic packaging is discarded after a single-use. This is an alarming statistic, and it’s something that we need to start paying attention to. The environmental impact of single-use plastic packaging is huge, and it’s only going to worsen if we don’t take steps to address the issue.

17. Only about 10% of e-waste is recycled compared to 52% of general waste.

E-waste is a huge problem. In Australia, only about 10% of e-waste is recycled (53,000 tonnes). That means that roughly 90% of electronic waste is either incinerated or sent to landfills. This is a colossal waste of resources, and it’s also bad for the environment.

What types of waste does Australia produce?

18. The manufacturing and construction sectors are the largest contributors to waste.

The manufacturing and construction sectors are the largest contributors of solid waste in Australia, accounting for 32% of the total waste produced (about 25.50 million tonnes), almost twice as much waste as household waste.

19. Australian households produce 12.4 million tonnes of waste.

Australian households produce a lot of waste. In fact, our households generate 12.4 million tonnes of waste each year, accounting for 16% of the total waste! That’s equivalent to the weight of about 470 Sydney Opera Houses!

20. Organic waste accounts for 20% of all the waste.

Organic waste is also a sizable contributor to landfills. In fact, organic waste accounts for 20% of all the waste – that’s 15.3 million tonnes of waste that could be recycled or composted. ! Out of this, 42% was recycled (6.4 million tonnes), while 45% was sent to landfill (6.9 million tonnes).

Conclusion

These 20 waste and landfill statistics of Australia are just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that our garbage problem is only getting worse, and we need to take action now. By working together and making some simple changes, we can make a big difference. Let’s start by reducing our waste, recycling more, composting our food scraps and avoiding single-use plastics at all costs. 

We can do these easy things to make a significant impact. What will you do to reduce your waste?