In 2017–18, around 235,000 tonnes of waste was sent to landfill in the ACT - that's around 560 kilograms per person. The organic materials in this waste, such as food scraps and garden waste, break down in the landfill and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
The ACT landfill at Mugga Lane is fitted with a facility that captures the methane and uses it to generate electricity. This facility captures an estimated 70% of the methane from the landfill, with the remaining 30% being released into the atmosphere. In 2017–18 emissions from landfill were 60.7 kt CO2-e, representing 2.2% of total emissions. From 2020, once electricity emissions are zero, waste treatment is projected to account for 4% of emissions.
Around 75,500 tonnes of general waste were collected from households in 2017–18. By weight, an estimated 35% of household general waste is food waste, and around 10% is garden waste. Using these estimates, around 34,000 tonnes of organic waste from households were sent to landfill in 2017–18. Around 117,000 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste was sent to landfill in the ACT in 2017–18. An estimated 13% of this, or 15,000 tonnes, was organic material.
Around 34,000 tonnes of co-mingled recyclables were collected from households and businesses in 2017–18. Diverting more recyclable materials from landfill will make better use of these resources. In addition, the recycled products that are created from these materials can help reduce environmental impacts by reducing the need to mine resources and manufacture new materials.
Key actions for waste
- Support food rescue organisations to avoid food waste.
- Continue to implement the Actsmart programs and household waste education programs to reduce waste generation and increase recycling.
- Introduce a food and garden waste collection for all households (including multi-unit dwellings) from 2023, and support with an education program from 2020.
- Develop and consult on a scheme for requiring large organic waste producers such as hospitality and food retail businesses to have a separate organic waste collection.
- Identify opportunities to reduce emissions from organic waste treatment including sewage such as through the use of anaerobic digestion and composting, and investigate potential sites for organic waste processing.