Options for improved waste management

  • 107 pages

  • Published: 28 Apr 2023

  • Author(s): Isabel Axio, Donna Lucas, Anne-Maree Boland, Clinton Muller, Kat Heinrich, Matt Allan

  • ISBN: 978-1-76053-350-2

Share this content
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • email
  • Download report PDF

  • Purchase a hard copy - AUD $60

Australia’s primary industries, including agriculture, fisheries and forestry, generate a significant amount of waste and by-products. Management of theses waste streams involves a range of practices, from stockpiling, landfilling, burning and burial to reuse, recycling and recovery.

Being able to participate in the latter options is constrained by access to services, distance to markets and high cost relative to other disposal methods. However, there are many improvements that can provide environmental benefits for growers, fishers and foresters, as well as improve efficiency and resilience.

This report details current waste management activities and captures existing or emerging options that have been changing, or can change, management of waste for the better. The report presents the findings from an options analysis and includes an assessment of four preferred options to manage specific waste challenges and insights on the barriers, risks, costs and opportunities for implementation; and a SWOT analysis of an additional 60 options that provides direction and ideas for many other avenues that can be investigated, trialled or implemented.

The four options examined in depth are: (1) Replacing copper chrome arsenate-treated posts used extensively in viticulture with either steel posts, untreated timber posts encased in recycled plastic or wood-plastic composite posts; (2) Whole crop purchasing to reduce on-farm food waste and overproduction; (3) Using certified soil biodegradable plastic mulches in horticulture and nursery production; and (4) Establishing reception facilities that accept unwanted fishing gear and assessing opportunities to recycle nets, ropes and gear.

The research identified Australian primary producers are committed to better managing their waste, including taking part in innovative programs that promote avoidance, reuse and recycling options – the desire and appetite to adopt improved practices is evident. However, there exist several critical barriers to implementing improved practices, including added costs and extra time, logistical challenges associated with collecting and transporting waste, access to and capacity of recycling and upcycling options, waste material contamination, and inconsistent waste management legislation between states.