Nov 15, 2023
min read

Australia Landfill Statistics

In 2023, Australia generates a staggering 75.8 mega tonnes (Mt) of waste, a significant concern that requires our attention
Ginger Krentz
Freelance Writer
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Welcome to the fascinating world of landfill statistics Australia! In this eye-opening blog post, we will dive deep into the heart of Australia’s waste management landscape, uncovering crucial insights and exploring the valuable lessons we can learn. Together, we will embark on a journey to better understand the environmental impact of landfill waste and discover practical ways to reduce our personal contributions. Ready to join the adventure? Let’s dive in!

Uncovering the Facts: Landfill Statistics Australia in 2023

Welcome to the fascinating world of landfill statistics Australia! In this eye-opening blog post, we will dive deep into the heart of Australia’s waste management landscape, uncovering crucial insights and exploring the valuable lessons we can learn. Together, we will embark on a journey to better understand the environmental impact of landfill waste and discover practical ways to reduce our personal contributions. Ready to join the adventure? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Reduce your waste contribution and join forces to create a more sustainable future!
  • Tackle “Problematic Plastics” and be mindful of meal planning habits.
  • Explore innovative construction methods, recycle responsibly & follow South Australia’s inspiring success story for reducing landfill contributions.

Landfill Statistics: A Snapshot of Australia's Waste Management

A pile of organic waste in a landfill in Australia

In 2023, Australia generates a staggering 75.8 mega tonnes (Mt) of waste, a significant concern that requires our attention. The National Waste Policy Action Plan, established in 2019, sets seven ambitious national waste targets aimed at tackling waste generation and achieving a circular economy. These targets include increasing recycling rates, reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, and halving food waste by 2030.

Household Waste

Astonishingly, household waste accounts for 12.4 million tonnes of the total waste generated in Australia. The good news? We have the power to make a positive impact by reducing our household waste. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Halve food waste by planning meals and making the most of leftovers.
  • Use green bins to divert around 250,000 tonnes of waste from landfill.
  • Recycle e-waste.
  • Use reusable coffee cups to lessen the impact on landfill waste.

Adopting eco-friendly practices can substantially lower our household waste contributions. Some examples include:

  • Utilizing alternatives to harmful cleaning products
  • Adhering to guidelines for handling lead-based paint
  • Responsibly disposing of hazardous waste, such as through deconstruction

These practices can maximize the potential of existing building materials and decrease landfill waste.

Commercial and Industrial Waste

Commercial and industrial waste, the solid waste generated by businesses and industries like manufacturing and construction, is another major contributor to Australia’s waste production. In fact, 30% of plastic waste production in Australia comes from commercial and industrial waste.

To address this issue, innovative programs like Planet Ark’s Recycling Nearby and Paintback have been implemented, empowering people to take action and recycle materials such as solvent and acrylic-based paints. Increasing awareness and advocating for responsible waste management allows us to collectively strive for a more sustainable future.

The Environmental Impact of Landfill Waste

A pile of plastic waste in a landfill in Australia

Landfill waste has far-reaching consequences on our environment. For instance, organic waste decomposing in landfills produces landfill gas, which consists of approximately 55% methane - a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2). Alarmingly, Australia adds 130,000 tonnes of plastic waste to our waterways and oceans on an annual basis. This is a serious issue which requires urgent attention. If we don’t take action to reduce our plastic waste rates, by 2050, the amount of plastic in the oceans could surpass the number of fish.

Transitioning from a linear economy to a circular economy can help minimize waste and reduce the environmental impact of landfill waste. Extending the lifecycle of materials and resources and emphasizing recycling and waste reduction can move us towards a cleaner, greener future for Australia.

Australia's Efforts to Reduce Landfill Waste

A person sorting through waste in a recycling facility in Australia

The Australian government is taking significant steps to address waste management challenges, including those arising from Chinese changes to waste recycling. With a commitment to keep over 600,000 tonnes of waste out of landfill, the government is investing an impressive $188.9 million to improve recycling outcomes. This investment not only supports domestic waste management and reduces environmental pressure but also creates economic opportunities, generating an additional 10,000 job openings.

In 2019, the National Waste Policy Action Plan was created, setting clear targets, outlining actions, and allocating funding to ensure the successful implementation of waste reduction strategies. Subsequently, in March 2020, the Council of Australian Governments released a strategy to implement the August 2019 Agreement, banning the export of plastic, paper, tires, and glass waste and building the necessary infrastructure to develop Australia’s capacity for manufacturing and re-manufacturing high-value products.

Collaborating with the community and industries enables the Australian government to catalyze a transformation in the nation’s waste management and recycling capacity, revolutionizing our waste management approach.

Problematic Plastics: A Major Contributor to Landfill Waste

A pile of plastic bags in a landfill in Australia

Plastics continue to pose a significant challenge in our efforts to reduce landfill waste. The War on Waste campaign shed light on the issue of fast fashion, highlighting its contribution to landfill waste. In response, big supermarkets took proactive steps by replacing single-use plastic bags with thicker reusable bags. Although these reusable bags cost 15c each, they play an important role in reducing plastic waste and saving money.

However, more still needs to be done to address the issue of problematic and unnecessary plastics. Current solutions for e-plastics in Australia are limited, and despite being banned and hazardous, e-waste still ends up in landfills.

Organizations like ReSource are dedicated to solving the e-plastics and soft plastics problem in Australia in the coming years, paving the way for a cleaner, more sustainable environment.

Food Waste in Australia: A Growing Concern

A person sorting through food waste in a landfill in Australia

Food waste is a pressing issue in Australia, with a staggering 5.3 million tonnes of food waste being sent to landfill annually, and 2.54 Mt of this coming from Australian homes. Commercial and industrial sources, such as supermarkets, cafes and fast-food outlets, are leading contributors to food waste in landfills. In particular, these sources are estimated to generate 2.2 million tonnes of food waste each year..

Food waste not only adds to landfill waste but also has far-reaching environmental effects, as rotting food releases methane gas. Additionally, it costs Australian households an alarming amount of money, between $2,200 to $3,800 a year.

To reduce food waste, we can start by planning our meals, buying only what we need, and using a portion guide to determine the right amount of food for each meal.

Construction and Demolition Waste: Opportunities for Recycling and Reuse

A pile of construction and demolition materials in a landfill in Australia

Construction and demolition waste is responsible for an impressive 45% of Australia’s core waste. To address this issue, innovative processes like downcycling, where concrete and masonry are crushed into aggregates, have been introduced. Furthermore, deconstruction can help maximize the potential of existing materials by taking apart a building and reusing the components, such as windows, doors, and flooring.

Prefabrication is another efficient and cost-effective construction method that can help reduce waste by using pre-fabricated building parts, which are fabricated off-site and then brought in to construct a full building. By exploring new methods of construction and recycling, we can create opportunities for recycling and reuse, ultimately reducing landfill contributions.

Hazardous Waste Disposal: Proper Management and Its Importance

A person sorting through hazardous waste in a landfill in Australia

Hazardous waste, such as motor oil, batteries, e-waste and pesticides, poses serious risks to our health and the environment if not managed properly. To ensure responsible disposal of hazardous waste, we can check with our local council or Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You for waste services available in our area.

One of the most common types of hazardous waste disposed of by households is batteries, which contain heavy metals that can leak into the ground if not disposed of correctly. Additionally, proper management of asbestos, a hazardous material used in buildings up until the mid-1980s, is crucial for ensuring safety during renovations.

Case Study: South Australia's Success in Waste Reduction

A graph showing South Australia's success in reducing waste

South Australia serves as an inspiring example of success in waste reduction, boasting an impressive resource recovery rate of 80%. The state has implemented effective strategies to reduce waste and become more sustainable, such as introducing a waste levy, banning single-use plastic bags, and implementing a container deposit scheme.

Learning from South Australia’s successful waste reduction strategies enables us to implement these practices in our own communities and strive for comparable results. The case study underscores the importance of collaboration and innovation in addressing the waste management challenges of our time.

Tips for Reducing Personal Landfill Contributions

A person sorting through waste in a recycling bin

Adopting simple yet effective practices to reduce personal landfill contributions can make a positive impact on our environment. Buying used items, repairing household items instead of replacing them, and finding creative ways to reuse items are just a few ways to reduce waste and emissions from producing new materials.

In addition, we can follow the inspiring example of the fix-it workshop, which empowers people to fix items for free so that they don’t have to discard them. By being mindful of our consumption habits and seeking opportunities to reduce waste, we can contribute to a more sustainable future for Australia.


In conclusion, understanding landfill statistics in Australia is vital for recognizing the challenges we face in waste management and identifying potential solutions. By examining various aspects of waste generation, such as household and commercial waste, problematic plastics, food waste, and construction waste, we can better understand the environmental impact of landfill waste and work together to reduce it. With the inspiring example of South Australia and practical tips for reducing personal landfill contributions, we can empower ourselves to take action and contribute to a cleaner, greener future for Australia.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of waste goes to landfill in Australia?

Australians are sadly sending over 20 million tonnes of waste to landfill each year, representing 27% of total generated solid waste.

How much landfill does Australia have each year?

Australia generates around 20.5 million tonnes of waste each year, with over half being recycled and the rest being disposed in landfills. Shockingly, we don't know the exact number, size or location of these landfills.

Is landfill a problem in Australia?

The Australian Government has identified 1,168 operational landfills, which receive 20 million tonnes of waste annually and receive the majority of waste that is not recycled or re-used. In addition, National Waste Report 2020 shows that 74 million tonnes of waste is produced yearly, with 40% going straight to landfills. Furthermore, only 13% of plastic is recovered with 84% sent to landfill and 130,000 tonnes leaking into the marine environment yearly. Clearly, landfill is an ongoing problem in Australia.

What is the most common waste in Australia?

Australians generate an incredible amount of waste each year, and the most common type is building and demolition waste at 25.2 megatonnes. Organics and ash from C&I electricity generation come in second and third place, respectively.

What are some effective ways to reduce household waste?

Reduce household waste by planning meals, making the most of leftovers, and recycling e-waste. These strategies are easy to implement and can make a big impact!

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