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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
THE WASTE HIERARCHY: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, RECOVER
Why should households reduce, reuse and recycle?
Waste minimisation involves reducing, reusing and recycling to divert waste from landfill. The main benefit is conserving valuable resources including:
- Minerals - used to make many useful materials (eg, bauxite is used to make aluminium);
- Energy - used in mining or harvesting, processing and transporting of raw materials;
- Native forests - which may be cleared for mining or used to make some types of paper and other wood products;
- Petroleum - used to make plastics; and
- Landfill sites - used to dispose of our waste. By minimising waste the life of existing sites is extended, reducing the need for new landfill sites.
Reducing waste saves money in many different ways.
- You get more out of what you buy.
- Businesses become more efficient.
- You don't need to buy new products as often so household incomes stretch further.
- Waste disposal costs are reduced.
- Waste minimisation reduces environmental impacts.
To reduce means to cut down the amount of resources we use each day both as individuals and as a society. This is the best action you can take to minimise waste and environmental impact.
The cumulative effects of people being wasteful in their use of resources has led to environmental problems with landfill, water pollution, air pollution, deforestation and over-use of nonrenewable resources. All of these problems can be slowed by reducing the amount of resources we use.
Reducing our consumption is one way to minimise the amount of waste going to landfill. Another way is to reuse items you have bought rather than throwing them away. Reusing items that would normally go to waste means that you buy new products less often.
This saves money, space in landfill, energy and resources that would have been used to make a new product.
Recycling is the reprocessing of a used product to make a new product. There are many materials that can be recycled or reused.
Why recycle? Recycling is beneficial because it:
- Reduces waste going to landfill;
- Uses less energy than manufacturing new products;
- Reduces environmental impacts;
- Recovers valuable resources;
- May provide income for community and other groups; and
- Can reduce the cost of garbage disposal.
Resources recovery is the range of activities used to treat waste materials for alternative uses instead of landfill. This can occur at the household level or on a large, centralised or regional scale. Recycling is the most common type of resource recovery. Other examples include:
- Waste to Energy (Combustion)
- Waste to Energy (Gasification)
Resources recovery recognises waste as a resource. Waste has value both in economic terms and in environmental terms.
There are significant cost savings and environmental benefits in diverting waste from landfill. Across Australia and internationally, a number of recovery options, such as recycling and composting, have been identified. In line with this are industry's efforts towards cleaning up their production processes so that less waste is generated. Resource recovery can occur in all sectors of society: government, industry and the wider community.
What is the WAste 2020 document?
The WAste 2020 strategy is to reduce waste to landfill to zero by the year 2020. Progress towards the vision will be realised through five interdependent goals:
- Sustainability - to achieve waste reduction, re-use and recycling outcomes which are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
- Commitment - to achieve the commitment and participation of all stakeholders in waste reduction, re-use and recycling practices and processes.
- Prevention - to prevent the generation of waste.
- Resources Recovery - to maximise the recovery and recycling of resources from waste.
- Integration - to establish effective frameworks and structures to coordinate and facilitate waste reduction, reuse and recycling, the recovery of resources and the safe management of remaining wastes.
What can waste be recycled into?
Most domestic waste can be recycled or recovered to produce compost, fertilisers, soil conditioners or an organic fuel that can be turned into green electricity.
What is organic waste?
Organic waste is any matter that is or was living. It includes:
- Garden waste: Leaves, grass clippings, branches, hay, flowers, sawdust, woodchips and bark;
- Food Waste: Fruit, vegetables, tea, bread, cereals, eggshells, grains, meat, dairy products;
- Other: Newspaper, paper, cardboard, animal hair, faeces, vacuum cleaner dust, hair, wool, wood ash.
All organic matter can be reused or reprocessed to make a variety of products.