National Waste Reporting - Frequently asked questions

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1. What information is available on the National Waste Reporting online resource?

National Waste Reporting 2013 provides a one-stop-shop for information on how much and what sort of waste is generated, how we manage waste and how much is recovered.

The online resource includes overviews on:

  • national and state and territory waste policies and programs
  • international agreements and our responsibilities relating to waste materials
  • waste generation and recovery data nationally as well as by jurisdiction

Key themes include: hazardous and organic waste; the waste management industry and infrastructure; community and charitable operations; and product stewardship.

A series of fact sheets grouped by theme provide key facts and figures and more detailed information: Australia’s waste generation profile and international performance; state and territory and national recycling statistics; local government collection services; and the value of the waste management industry.

15 case studies explore on-the-ground examples of waste management and recovery:

  • Compaction equipment for the recovery of polystyrene in NSW
  • Avoiding food waste: the Love Food Hate Waste Programme in NSW
  • No nappies in your recycling bin
  • Recycle Right: a popular program
  • Community group tackles zero waste
  • Infrastructure grants stimulate industry investment
  • Metropolitan Organics Processing Contract
  • Victorian Litter Strategy 2012-14 and a Cleaner Yarra and Port Phillip Bay
  • Three organic waste case studies: Foodbank; OzHarvest; and SecondBite
  • Three social enterprise case studies: Denmark Tip Shop and Recycling Centre; Endeavour Foundation; and Soft Landing recycling of mattresses
  • An international case study: Waste to Energy Facility – Bolzano, Italy.

Supporting research reports and interactive data workbooks are also available online. These contain the detailed data and analysis that underpins the information provided in the overviews and fact sheets.

The National Waste Reporting Mapping tool provides a visual display of landfill and recycling facilities by local government area and kerbside recycling services.

2. How do I access the information I’m interested in?

National Waste Reporting 2013 allows you to focus on areas of interest through:

  • Links to access additional information sources where available. For example the Waste-related International Obligations overview links to more detailed information on the Department of the Environment’s website on specific treaties and agreements.
  • Research and best practice guides, for example: establishing food and garden organics collection in local areas.
  • Data workbooks to interrogate the principal data sets which underpin the report. Key reports and analytical studies are also provided.
  • Case studies which raise awareness of sometimes unintended waste, such as purchasing too much food which ends up as food waste or donating unwanted/unusable goods to charitable stores which has to be disposed of to landfill at the cost to the charity.
  • An interactive mapping tool to view information on your local area: Maps of kerbside recycling collection of plastics, garden/food waste, paper & cardboard, glass and metals can be created to identify and compare kerbside recycling services in local government areas across Australia. For example, these maps highlight the mixed picture for recycling across local government areas.

    The maps provide a better understanding of the diverse arrangements across sometimes adjoining local government areas. It provides opportunities for considering ways to achieve more comprehensive collection across broader areas where it makes sense to do so. It provides councils, waste and recycling businesses with critical information to assist in planning future waste management activities. For example, this information can be useful when contracts are being renewed or opportunities for amalgamated services arise. It can be used as an educational resource on the types and materials recycled at kerbside.


    Additional information on other items which can be recycled within a selected Local Government Area is available by clicking on the Local Government Area of interest. The National Waste Reporting Mapping Tool will be useful for communities in clarifying whether the kerbside recycling service caters for less common items such as steel paint cans or phone books.

    The example below provides an outline of the information available in the drop down list showing what items are collected at kerbside for recycling within the Cardinia Shire in Victoria.

    All food scraps = Not collected
    All organics = Some collection
    All paper and cardboard = Collected
    All plastic = Collected
    Aluminium cans = Collected
    Aluminium foil = Collected
    Appliances = No data
    Cardboard = Collected
    Computers = No data
    Egg cartons = Collected
    Envelopes with no window = Collected
    Envelopes with window = Collected
    Garden prunings = Some collection
    Garden waste = Some collection
    Glass bottles = Collected
    Magazines = Collected
    Metal packaging = Collected
    Mobile phones = No data
    Mp3 players = No data
    Office paper = Collected
    Phone books = Collected
    Pizza boxes = Collected
    Plastic type 1 PET = Collected
    Plastic type 2 HDPE = Collected
    Plastic type 3 PVC = Collected
    Plastic type 4 LDPE = Collected
    Plastic type 5 PP = Collected
    Plastic type 6 PS = Collected
    Plastic type 7 = Collected
    Printer cartridges = No data
    Small timber offcuts = Not collected
    Steel aerosol cans = Collected
    Steel food cans = Collected
    Steel paint cans = Collected

    Figure 1 below provides an example of a kerbside materials collected by local councils (through various arrangements including regular and periodic kerbside collection of through the provision of drop-off facilities).

    Figure 1: Kerbside collection of paper and cardboard in Victoria

    Figure 1

    Maps of operating waste management facilities can be created allowing you to view facilities in your local area/area of interest, or the distance of a facility from their local area/area of interest, for example to an National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme collection point to recycle your television or computer. The following facilities can be mapped, individually or together:

    • operating landfills
    • transfer stations
    • reprocessing facilities
    • National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme collection points.

    Maps can be viewed from a national scale to a detailed local scale (see figures 2 & 3)

    Figure 2: Location of waste management facilities, NSW

    Figure 2

    Figure 3: Location of waste management facilities, Sydney region – close-up

    Figure 3

3. What is waste?

For the purposes of National Waste Reporting 2013, waste is defined as materials or products that are unwanted or have been discarded, rejected or abandoned. Waste includes materials or products that are recycled, converted to energy, or disposed. Materials and products that are reused (for their original purpose and without reprocessing) are not waste because they remain in use.

4. How is waste generation calculated?

Waste generation = resource recovery (recycling + energy recovery) + disposal.

5. What is resource recovery?

Resource recovery = recycling + recovery of energy

6. How is the resource recovery rate calculated?

Resource recovery rate = resource recovery/waste generation.

7. How is the recycling rate calculated?

Recycling rate = recycling/waste generation x 100

8. What is energy recovery?

In the context of National Waste Reporting 2013, energy recovery refers to the process of recovering energy that is embodied in solid wastes.

9. Why don’t figures in National Waste Reporting 2013 always match figures published by jurisdictions themselves?

The national and jurisdictional figures used in National Waste Reporting 2013 were sourced from Waste generation and resource recovery in Australia (2013) unless otherwise stated. Waste generation and resource recovery in Australia was required to follow the methodology/recommendations set out in the Hyder (2010) Method Report for collating national data, or justify any divergence from the agreed methodology. Data was cleared by jurisdictions before publishing. Caveats are provided where required. For more information see Waste generation and resource recovery in Australia.

10. Can I use National Waste Reporting to benchmark my jurisdiction’s waste and resource recovery performance against another?

National Waste Reporting 2013 uses an agreed methodology to assist in comparing data across different state and territory data sets, noting that differences in definitions, classifications and approaches to waste data exist between states.

Conclusions should not be drawn about the performance of jurisdictions over time nor comparisons made between jurisdictions without a firm understanding of local circumstances. For example, garden organic tonnages can change significantly over time and between jurisdictions due to rainfall; commercial waste profiles can vary between jurisdictions depending on the industries present; and the viability of recycling a material can vary depending on the distance from the point of generation and the main markets for the collected materials.

It is also important to note, that data in this report included waste from natural disasters and/or large infrastructure projects which may have resulted in a peak in waste generation figures for some jurisdictions over the reporting period.

11. Where do I find help on how to use the National Waste Reporting Mapping Tool?

The Help tab in the National Waste Reporting Mapping Tool provides detailed information, including screen shots, on how to use the mapping tool. If you need additional help using the mapping tool, or wish to provide feedback, please contact the Department of the Environment via email at

12. Why is the map taking a long time to load?

Drawing maps at a national or state level can take some time, depending on your computer’s operating system, due to the amount of metadata required to create the map. To reduce the time it takes your map to load, use the zoom function to focus in on your area of interest.

13. What materials are can be mapped in the kerbside collection maps?

Six local government kerbside collection maps for recyclable materials may be viewed:

  • plastics – includes all types of plastic (i.e. one to seven)
  • paper and cardboard – includes, paper, cardboard, and juice and milk cartons.
  • glass bottles – includes all coloured glass bottles.
  • metal packaging – includes aluminium cans, aluminium foil, steel aerosol cans, steel food cans.
  • food waste – food, fruit and vegetable scraps, leafy vegetables.
  • garden waste – includes garden prunings, flowers, grass clippings, leaves, twigs, weeds, small branches, small timber offcuts.

14. What do the coloured layers mean in the kerbside collection maps?

To show the scale of recycling undertaken by each local government area, each map has been colour coded:

  • Green (Collected) – indicates that all residents have access to kerbside collection services for all of the recyclable material mapped.
  • Orange (Some collection) – indicates that some residents have access to kerbside collection for all of the recyclable mapped, or some residents have access to some of the recyclable material mapped, or all of the resident have access to some of the recyclable material mapped.
  • Red (not collected) – indicates that none of the residents have access to any kerbside collection for any of the material mapped.
  • White (no data) – indicates no data was available for the local government area.
  • Grey (no local government) – indicates that this is an unincorporated area with no local government.

For the purposes of the National Waste Reporting Mapping Tool, residents are taken to include houses, units and townhouses.


Download the Frequently asked questions as a PDF file:

Frequently asked questions (PDF - 277.09 KB)