- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
- Air Quality
- Animal Welfare
- Bushfire Risk Management
- Children and young people
- Climate Change and Energy
- Coal and Coal Seam Gas
- Coastal management
- Coastal Sand mining and extraction
- Drugs and harm minimisation
- Early Childhood Education
- Electoral and Funding Reform
- Environment Impact Assessment and Pollution Control
- Gaming Machines
- Genetic Engineering in Food and Crops
- Genetically Engineered Organisms in Production of Pharmaceuticals
- Industrial relations
- Juvenile Justice
- Local Government
- Marine Environment
- National Parks
- Older People
- Planning and Infrastructure
- Public Ownership
- Public Sector Social and Environmental Responsibility
- Recreation and Sport
- Regional Development
- Rural Land Use
- Rural young people
- Sexuality and Gender Identity
- Social Equity
- Voluntary Euthanasia
- Waste Elimination
- Water (rural and agricultural)
- Water (urban)
- Worker's Compensation
Waste Elimination Policy
Revised July 2006
1. Waste elimination is based on two fundamental principles:
- 1.1 The best way to deal with waste is to avoid producing it in the first place; and
- 1.2 Those who generate waste should be responsible for its full life cycle.
2. Waste is one of society's major environmental problems as in our current situation huge amounts of our non-renewable resources are wasted by making them into disposable items.
3. Most solid waste ends up in landfills, causing problems such as:
- 3.1 Ground water pollution;
- 3.2 Escaping methane gas;
- 3.3 Toxic off-gassing causing illness;
- 3.4 Odour and vermin;
- 3.5 Surface run off to water courses;
- 3.6 Air and noise pollution; and
- 3.7 Loss of high conservation natural areas;
4. Consumers pay more for throw-away products which generate higher profits for manufacturers but ultimately cost society more for disposal;
5. Australia's balance of payments suffers due to the cost of importing unnecessary packaging and materials which are not used as efficiently as possible.
6. The best solution is waste avoidance, via a number of strategies:
- 6.1 Refuse to accept wasteful and unnecessary items;
- 6.2 Reduce consumption levels and learn to live with fewer consumer goods;
- 6.3 Reuse containers and buy durable items;
- 6.4 Recycle what you can't reuse; and
- 6.5 Compost food and garden scraps.
7. The advantages of waste avoidance include:
- 7.1 Elimination of need for waste disposal through EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility);
- 7.2 Reduced consumption of energy and materials in manufacturing and transport;
- 7.3 Less need to make new goods;
- 7.4 Greater local self sufficiency;
- 7.5 Cost savings to consumers and society; and
- 7.6 Employment opportunities through repair and re-use.
8. The ultimate goal is to develop systems and products which require no final disposal.
9. Those who generate waste should be held responsible for disposing of it. The attitude of industry needs to be: "If it can't be reused or recycled, don't make it".
10. One of the major results of the current boom in environmental awareness has been a desire by many people to reduce their impact on the planet. Recycling is only one part of the waste hierarchy which has benefited.Manufacturing, particularly beverage and packaging manufacturers, argue that we only need to recycle more to solve our waste problems, implying that there is no need to question our high consumption, throw-away lifestyles. Their efforts to divert attention from the real causes of the waste crisis have been very effective, especially in convincing politicians not to introduce laws on waste avoidance.
11. From an environmental, economic and social view, waste reduction and re-use are far more effective ways of minimising waste than recycling. The transport and handling costs associated with municipal recycling make it very expensive, especially in non-metropolitan communities which generally have dispersed populations spread over large areas. By contrast, avoiding waste at its source and making better use of reusable containers not only cuts waste, but also saves money for consumers and society in the long term.
The Waste Crisis
12. New South Wales remains in the midst of a waste crisis. Sydney for example, is estimated to have a limited number of years of landfill disposal capacity remaining, yet numerous proposals have been made to transport Sydney's waste to distant rural areas in an attempt to maintain the city's unsustainable lifestyle. Rural communities and environmentalists remain adamant there should be "No Sydney Dump for the Bush".
13. There is an urgent need for enactment of an integrated waste elimination strategy. Without such a strategy country areas of NSW will bear the burden of Sydney's wasteful lifestyle.
14. Using expensive alternative technology which converts waste to energy is inappropriate and results in unnecessary “end of pipe solutions”.
15. Waste elimination is not creating waste for disposal by adhering to the following hierarchy; consumption avoidance, product and packaging re-use, and organic and non-organic material recycling and composting (in that order of priority).
16. Avoiding is not consuming material and energy resources e.g. choosing not to acquire unnecessary products or packaging.
17. Re-using is using products or packaging again for the same purpose without further manufacturing, e.g. purchasing second-hand goods, returning refillable containers (such as glass milk bottles) so they can be used again.
18. Recycling is a closed-loop system using used material to re-manufacture the same product, e.g. the re-pulping and re-manufacture of new office paper from used office paper, smashing and melting old glass bottles to make new ones.
19. Reprocessing is, in contrast, an open-loop system using used material to manufacture a different 'new' product, for example, manufacturing other products from plastic soft drink bottles; insulation from waste paper.
20. Waste is discarded products and materials only found in human society.
21. Disposal is attempting to isolate waste from daily human activities by landfilling, river or sea dumping, or incineration - including waste to energy schemes such as biomass landfill gas collection and SWERF which do not achieve the objectives established by the waste elimination hierarchy.
22. The primary aim of this policy is to achieve 'Zero Waste’ through zero waste generation and zero waste disposal.
23. Other important and complementary aims include:
- 23.1 Reduce total consumption of material and energy resources;
- 23.2 Move toward a waste-free society as an integral part of ecological sustainability;
- 23.3 Maximise self-sufficiency at a local level;
- 23.4 Promote greater community knowledge, appreciation, and understanding of waste and environmental issues;
- 23.5 Promote greater community access to, and involvement in, decision-making at all levels of government;
- 23.6 Encourage more environmentally and socially beneficial resource use;
- 23.7 Ensure that the responsibility for waste is ultimately borne by those who produce that waste (i.e. polluter pays principle);
- 23.8 Achieve a greater level of employment in-line with increased product re-use and material recycling at a local level;
- 23.9 Avoid the pollution, waste of resources, and social impacts caused by the disposal or combustion of waste;
- 23.10 Seek alternatives to the generation and disposal of all types of hazardous waste - thereby avoiding the multitude of problems which would otherwise exist throughout their life-cycle;
- 23.11 Avoid the need to establish new, or to expand existing, waste disposal/reprocessing facilities;
- 23.12 Ensure an integrated and comprehensive approach to waste elimination;
- 23.13 Promote equity for present and future generations by ending the excessive consumption and the unjust distribution of material and energy resources; and
- 23.14 Promote a precautionary approach to the adoption of new technology.
For full policy click the orange download button on the right.