Waste accounts provide an economy-wide view of how waste and recycled materials are managed and reused in Australia.
Waste accounts include information on:
- The types and volume of waste generated by industry, government and households;
- The management, treatment and disposal of various types of waste material;
- How much material is recycled; and
- Economic indicators for the waste sector.
Waste accounts provide valuable insight into Australia’s waste management practices, including opportunities that may support the emergence of a circular economy where materials are recycled and reused rather than traditional ‘make, use and dispose’ practices.
For the waste management industry, waste accounts can support efficiency and growth in the market by providing information on:
- the demand for various waste services across industries and their economic value;
- the availability of various types of recycled materials;
- waste sector economic metrics; and
- the potential profitability of various waste management activities.
Having access to evidence based data through these accounts can help waste management businesses identify opportunities within the market and be responsive to shifting demands.
For governments, waste accounts can be used to support the design and delivery of effective waste management policies and investments.
Through the National Waste Policy 2018, all Australian governments have outlined their intent to help Australia transition to a circular economy, whereby the economic value of resources is maintained for as long as possible through reuse and recycling. The waste accounts provide information critical to achieving this objective.
The National Waste Account published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is part of an incremental process to improve our understanding of waste material flow and value at a national scale. By presenting physical waste data paired with monetary data, from a whole-of-economy perspective, the account improves the information base available for market development.
The account improves on available information on Australia’s production of waste and associated waste industries. The account uses data collected for the National Waste Report and combines this with a range of information from the ABS. This provides a detailed breakdown on Australia’s generation and management of waste.
The 2020 update of the National Waste Account covers 3 years (2016–17, 2017–18 and 2018–19) providing a time series of data on waste materials, management and economic indicators. The update increases the accuracy of previous estimates due to the availability of new sources of data including new data from the ABS Environmental Indicator Survey for 2018–19.
Consistent with the account released last year the 2020 account includes:
- breakdowns of industry sectors to help identify potential market opportunities. For example, rather than reporting ‘commercial and industrial’ waste this has been further separated into key sectors including manufacturing, electricity, mining, agriculture and other industries;
- breakdowns of waste material to inform market development. For example, rather than identifying ‘plastics’ as a waste this has been further separated into the key types and volumes of waste plastics; and
- financial values on waste services developed in accordance with ABS standards which allows this data to be analysed with other industry sectors and better integrated with national economic indicators.