Market Intelligence
Waste Management Services Recycling Australia Trade Development Trade Promotion

Australia Resource Recovery and Recycling

The waste and resource recovery industry, together with local councils, manage considerable waste and recycling assets across all Australian states and territories.  These include around 870 transfer stations, 810 resource recovery facilities, and an estimated 1,200 landfills in Australia, with 75% of landfilled waste going to 38 sites.

Australia produces 76 million tons of waste annually.  The biggest generators of waste are the manufacturing sector (12.8 million tons), the construction sector (12.7 million tons), households (12.4 million tons), and the utilities sector (10.9 million tons).

In 2018 the Australian Government developed a National Waste Policy supported by an Action Plan and targets.  Australia‚Äôs resource recovery rate is currently at 60%.  The Action Plan target is for 80% resource recovery by 2030. Other important targets and initiatives that are expected to act as market drivers include:

  • A 2021 ban on the export of waste plastics, paper, glass, and tires.  Secondary reprocessing that was primarily undertaken in Asia now needs to be urgently relocated to Australia.
  • A phase-out of problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025.  Australia produces 2.5 million tons of plastic waste each year.  Only 13% of plastic is recovered and 84% is sent to landfill.
  • Halving the amount of organic waste sent to landfill by 2030.

Another key driver is landfill taxes.  NSW has the highest tax or levy at AUD147 per ton.  As the cost of landfill disposal continues to rise, so too will the economic feasibility of recycling systems.  The following materials are still making their way to landfill: organics (7 million tons); mixed construction and demolition waste (6 mt); mixed commercial waste (6 mt); tires (3 mt); paper (2 mt); and plastics (2 mt).  Opportunities are increasing for recycling solutions that can divert more of these waste streams and support circular economy processes.

Extended producer responsibilities currently apply for packaging, mobile phones, agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals, oils and lubricants, tires, e-waste, and mercury containing lamps.  Proposed producer responsibilities include handheld batteries, air conditioners, refrigerators, dairy silage, soft plastic, bikes, and car seats.  Producers are increasingly looking at systems that can address these product areas.

For more information on the Australian market for resource recovery and recycling solutions please contact the U.S. Commercial Service in Australia: office.australia@trade.gov.