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.
To date, data on locations of waste, estimated volume of waste generated and available pathways for disposal has been limited. The baseline data outlined in this report is the outcome from the first data collection project of its type focused on pre-farm gate organic, workshop and plastic waste.
The research found the Australian agriculture, fisheries and forestry sector generated an estimated 9.8 million tonnes of pre-farm gate waste in 2020-21, the majority comprised of organic, plastic and workshop material. While organic material can be used beneficially on farm, and opportunities exist for recycling and reuse of other materials, management pathways still require further analysis.
The collection of baseline data on pre-farm gate waste in Australia will better inform management practices, policies and investment. Extensive engagement throughout the project, including interviews, workshops and meetings, highlighted a desire within rural industries to improve waste and resource management, and industry support to facilitate this.
Importantly, rural industries that are setting waste reduction targets or considering waste management in their sustainability frameworks can use this baseline data to track progress against targets. It is recommended users consider this data in conjunction with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry National Waste and Resource Recovery Roadmap.
Collaboration across industries will be key to addressing waste generation hot spots, particularly where large volumes of material of similar composition can be recovered and recycled together. Further, industry action needs to be complemented by the supply chain to identify novel solutions to the waste challenge. The insights support the growing appetite for improvement in waste and resource management, and validate the need for ongoing data collection to address gaps in baseline data and inform identified industry-specific challenges.