Australian Recycling Statistics Facts

Posted by Trefin Margerison on July 21, 2014 at 9:40 PM

Australian Recycling Facts

How good are you at recycling?

Waste Disposal is a huge problem for Australia and for the world as a whole. Waste Disposal isn't a dirty word and we shouldn't feel bad about throwing things out, to declutter our houses or backyards. Whether we like it or not, our beloved goods no matter how much we cherish them or look after them, they will all either stop working, break, or are just passed their use by date, life goes on.

Having said all of that, we do need to take responsibility for what we are disposing of and to make sure we dispose of our used items in a responsible manner.

Sometime it is easier just to throw your outdated mobile phone in the rubbish bin with little regard for where it's going, what the impact is of where it is going, is it harming our environment or is it being recycled?

If we are going to dispose of our once beloved old expired goods, we need to be taking the extra step and recycle everything we can, in an effort to help our environment to sustain the pressure of our globes increasing population and the effects this is having on our planet.

Below are some facts from Sita that may help you to keep recycling and to see the benefits to the environment from recycling.

Steel and Aluminium Facts

Recycled steel is collected from the kerbside of our domestic homes, collected, sorted, sent to a furnace where it is melted to a liquid, then it is made into billets of steel, they are then transport

  • In 2010 - 93% of all Australians have access to kerbside recycling services which accept aluminium and steel cans, unfortunately many steel and aluminium cans are still finding their way into landfill sites across the country
  • In 2010 Australians recycled 30.3% of all steel cans and 67.4% of aluminium cans
  • In Australia we send enough steel to landfill to manufacture the equivalent to 40,000 fridges
  • To manufacture 1 aluminium can takes the same amount of energy, as it does to manufacture 20 cans from recycled materials
  • It only takes 60 days for an aluminium can to be recycled, and then put back on the supermarkets shelf
  • More than 2 Billion aluminium cans are recycled each year in Australia
  • Every week in Australia 17.5 million steel cans are recycled, this is enough steel to manufacture 900 new cars
  • Recycling 1 Tonne of steel, saves 1131 kg of iron ore, 54 kg of limestone and 633 kg of coal
  • Using recycled steel cans to produce new steel compared to raw material, uses up to 75% less energy
  • Recycling 1 aluminium can will save enough power to run a TV for 3 hours

Paper and Cardboard facts

To recycle paper and cardboard it is collected from the kerbside, sorted and made into bales, it is then transported to paper mills where water is added turning it into a pulp, it is then screened to remove steel staples and objects, de inked, poured onto screens where it is dried and turned into paper.

  • In 2006 - 2007 In Australia we used 5.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard between for domestic and commercial use, Of this amount only 2.5 million tonnes was recycled
  • From 2006 - 2007 domestic waste going to landfill contained 26% paper and cardboard, while commercial & industrial waste contained 55% paper and cardboard
  • Making paper from recycled materials uses 99% less water and 50% less energy compared to using raw materials
  • It takes 2.5 tonnes of radiate pine to manufacture just 1 tonne of newsprint
  • Recycling 1 tonne of newspapers saves 3 cubic metres of landfill space
  • Recycling 1 kilogram of paper and cardboard will save 1 kilogram of greenhouse gasses
  • The manufacture of 26 piece of paper is equivalent to driving your car for 1 km
  • 1 tree will make 6 reams of paper or 3077 pieces of A4 paper

Paper breaks down slowly in landfill due to a lack of oxygen. The result is methane is let off in large amounts, having a greater greenhouse gas impact than carbon dioxide.

Plastic Facts

Plastic to be recycled is collected from the kerbside it is then sorted into the different polymers, compressed into bales, the bales are transported to recyclers, the bales are shredded and cleaned, the materials are then fed into an extruder where it is heated up and forced through a die, it plastic strings like spaghetti, it is cooled slightly then cut into granules or pallets, bagged and ready to be moulded into its next product.

  • In Australia we use 377,000 tonne of plastic packaging each year, in 2010 we recycled 288,194 tonnes
  • The production of plastic requires oil, gas and coal, the manufacture of plastic also emits greenhouse gasses which contribute to climate change. Plastic is also contaminates our oceans and kills millions of marine animals each year.
  • It takes 125 plastic milk bottles to manufacture 1 140 litre wheelie bin
  • Plastic bottles in landfill can take up to 500 years to breakdown
  • PET bottles made from recycled materials saves 84% of energy, compared to using raw material
  • Plastic products made from recycled materials compared to virgin material reduces water usage by 90%, carbon dioxide by 2.5 tonnes and energy consumption by two thirds
  • There is meant to be 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in each square mile of our oceans
  • Recycling just 1 plastic drink bottle will save enough power to run your computer for 25 minutes.
  • Recycling just 1 tonne of plastic will save enough power to run your refrigerator for 1 month

Glass Facts

Recycled glass is collected from domestic kerbside collections, glass is sorted into 3 colours green, amber (brown) and clear, it is sent to be crushed in to fine powder called cullet, the glass is sent to a beneficiation plant where it is further crushed, heated to 1500 degree C and poured into new jars and bottles.

  • Glass was discovered about 5,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, which makes glass on of the oldest forms of packaging
  • Glass is made from soda ash, sand and limestone and can be recycled an infinite amount of times
  • 25% of all glass bottles and jars are made from recycled materials
  • Recycled glass products just half of the greenhouse gasses compared to making glass from sand.
  • Recycled crushed glass (cullet) can be substituted in concrete for sand
  • Making new products from recycled glass saves 75% of the energy it takes to produce glass from raw materials
  • Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled 1 million times over to produce bottles and jars of the same high quality
  • A glass bottle can take anywhere from 4,000 to 1 million years to breakdown in landfill.
  • Fluorescent Tubes, Lamps and Globes Facts
  • In Australia we dispose of 50 - 60 million fluorescent tubes and HID (high density discharge) lamps every year. The end result is large amounts of mercury being deposited into our landfill every year.
  • Between 2008 - 2020 Australians will save 28 million tonnes of greenhouse gasses, just by using energy efficient lighting.
  • As of 2009, incandescent light bulks can no longer be sold in Australia
  • The unsafe disposing of mercury coated products leads to contamination of our food chain, especially fish.
  • Fluorescent tubes contain heavy metals that are toxic and impose a major health risk to human health and to our environment.
  • It is estimated that 95% of mercury containing HID lamps end up in Australias landfill each year

The mercury, glass, aluminium and phosphor powder from fluorescent lamps can be recycled and saving valuable resources and help prevent environmental damage.

E Waste Facts

Electronic waste can contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, Hexavalent, chromium, and brominated fire retardants that are hazardous and difficult to dispose of and are potentially damaging to our environment.

  • E-Waste is produced at up to 3 times the amount of household waste production
  • Recycled components from a mobile phone can be used to manufacture jewelry, stainless steel and plastic fence posts
  • More than 3.4 litres of oil are used to make just 1 new laser cartridge
  • In Australia it i8s estimated we throw out 18 million computer cartridges each year
  • More than 90% of a mobile phones components can be recycled
  • Valuable materials such as gold, copper, iron, nickel and silicon can be extracted from electronic components and reused
  • The average computer monitor contains up to 2 kg of lead
  • Making just 1 desktop computer and monitor uses the same amount of chemicals 22kg, water 1500 kg and fossil fuels 240 kg which is the same as to make a medium size car

Battery Facts

  • We purchase approx. 350 million batteries in Australia each year, over two thirds of these batteries are sent to landfill each year, this makes batteries the most common form of hazardous waste
  • Only 6% (by weight) of handheld batteries are currently being recovered for processing
  • Each Lead acid (car) battery contains 2 - 3 litres of sulphuric acid
  • Recycling lead acid (car ) batteries uses less energy than refining primary ore and removes lead from our environment
  • 98% of a car battery can be recycled
  • Metals found in batteries such as cadmium, nickel, lead and mercury are toxic and endanger the health of our wildlife, humans and our environment if not managed properly
  • Other materials recycled from batteries can be used to manufacture new batteries, fertilisers, rubbish bins and pot plants.

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