Australia’s agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector is making inroads to reduce its waste footprint and align with Australia’s National Waste Policy. Investment in a range of projects as part of AgriFutures Australia’s Pre-Farm Gate Waste Program has delivered insight to inform strategies and investment across rural industries, and set a baseline for future data collection to support waste management activities.
All wastes generated by agriculture, fisheries and farm-forestry operations now need to be considered within the context of a circular economy by placing value on resources for as long as possible within the waste resources’ lifetimes. Within the circular economy model, waste policy incorporates the waste hierarchy, which has been adopted by most Australian states and territories, and the Australian Government as a means to minimise the generation of unnecessary waste and improve resource recovery. The waste hierarchy and the principles of the National Waste Policy can inform options and solutions to enable circular economy principles to be adopted by stakeholders to manage and reduce waste.
This report, produced by Murrang Earth Sciences, focuses on understanding the issues stakeholders have in managing workshop waste and how to improve its management. Difficult-to-manage workshop wastes include oil, chemicals and their containers, batteries, metal, broken tools, and machinery. The research found there are workshop waste management opportunities and relevant product stewardship schemes already occurring in Australia, and these have viable potential to be utilised by agriculture, fisheries and forestry stakeholders.
The research uncovered 14 key barriers and opportunities to improve waste management in regional, rural and remote Australia, where most stakeholders are located, including access, costs, transport, infrastructure, community-based solutions and knowledge sharing. Existing management practices were found to be most effective when they are local, simple, effective and cheap.
Considering a pathway forward, the project team designed four community-based waste management approaches that can be further investigated or implemented in regional, rural and remote Australia. The feasible options, if adopted, will allow stakeholders to better manage their workshop waste for human safety and environmental protection, while also considering best practice and national policy. Adoption of community-based approaches will also mean stakeholders will have access to management options that enhance the amenity of their land and workspaces, and improve community cohesion and wealth by providing alternative options for community fundraising.