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The Big Picture

For the first iteration of The Sustainability Series, I want to step back to take a landscape view of the big picture when it comes to waste

Every two years in Australia, a National Waste report is released, providing an update on how our waste data is tracking.

Broken down simply, Australia’s waste is comprised of:

  • 18% (14 mega tonnes Mt) of household waste/local government waste collection

  • 38% (29 Mt) of construction and demolition waste

  • 43% (32.8 Mt) of commercial and industrial waste including ash from coal electricity generation plants

It fascinates me how individuals can get very wrapped up in their own waste generation, witnessed in their own bins. I believe we, as a collective society, fail to see the bigger picture.

When we talk about how we want to make a better impact on the planet, some of the options I hear are:

‘I’m sending off my blister packs for recycling’

‘I wish they would recycle take away coffee cups here’

And the classic ‘I’m keeping my soft plastics for when that starts again…’

These current beliefs come from a similar vein. 15+ years ago when I started working in the waste management industry, the introduction of a recycling bin was perceived as the ‘golden ticket’ of sustainable living. ‘My recycling bin is overflowing!’ We know we can no longer recycle our way out of our waste conundrums.


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