How Does Solid Waste Management Affect Australia

Introduction

Waste is generally regarded as all materials which have no use and purpose. Wastes are generated by households and industrial houses. The wastes being generated by households are generally biodegradable materials and other recyclable materials (Burnley 2014). Households also generate some amount of hazardous materials in the form of old medicines. The municipal waste is general household waste and wastes that are generated by educational sectors and other government and commercial establishments. Most of the municipal waste thus by principal can be reduced, reused and recycled.

Industrial waste is generally hazardous in nature. Though industrial wastes are inert and hazardous they a greater propensity to being recycled.  Their recyclability stems from the fact that their chemical composition is known. They are produced at specified locations. Moreover the management of the industrial organisation and various government regulations are responsible for the control of these industrial wastes. Also some amount of industrial wastes can be used as landfill.

The process by which the solid waste is collected and recycled is known as Solid Waste management (SWM) (Chandrapa and Das 2012). Improper management of solid waste leads to harmful chemicals leaching into the earth, cause environmental damage and thereby effect the environment and the community. A proper SWM can include (1) Sanitary landfill – the method of landfill by which the unusable materials are disposed, (2) 3R- reducing, reusing and recycling solid household materials, (3) Incineration – generation of energy through biodegradable waste and (4) Composting- creating manure from biodegradable waste.

Whatever is the solid waste or the solid waste management technique they are potential sources of reuse and recycling. Thus the processes of solid waste management are potential sources of business.

Literature Review

Solid waste management is the process by which solid materials are collected, treated and disposed since the solid waste has served its purpose. Solid wastes generated by households are of different types – biodegradable waste, recyclable waste and solid wastes fit for landfill.

The recycling of biodegradable waste being generated by households is a good source of revenue generation (Lou, Nair and Ho 2013).  The biodegradable food being generated by households is used as renewable energy. Anaerobic digestion of biodegradable wastes generates energy. This form of energy generation strategy is highly popular in countries like China, India and different countries of Europe. Australia’s first anaerobic digester commenced operation in 2003. Presently there are three more anaerobic digesters in Australia. The renewable energy policy of the commonwealth of Australia 2010 provides a framework for the expansion of the anaerobic digesters. The potential energy derived from anaerobic digestion can be estimated by the expression as given by Matteson and Jenkins (2007).

The biodegradable waste generated by households is incompletely managed at the municipal solid waste management systems (Thi, Kumar, Lin 2015). Due to this incomplete management leads to increased green house effect. Australia generates about 2,261,061 tonne of biodegradable waste every year. This biodegradable waste is a potential source of energy. A complete management of this biodegradable energy could bring about a sustainable development.

The food waste to anaerobic digestion has high potential economic benefits as a primary generator of electricity (Thi, Lin and Kumar 2016). This type of energy generation and thereby waste management can provide cheap electricity. In many countries of the world in Europe and North America the solid biodegradable waste to energy generation plants have been connected to the national grid. The highest electricity by this process is by Germany which shares about 0.44% of its energy requirement through this process. It has been found that this form of energy is cheaper than both wind power and solar power. The capital cost of food waste to energy plant is five times less than that of solar power plant. The operations and maintenance cost of food waste to energy plant is five times lower than that of wind power plant. According to rough estimates Australia can make economic benefits to the tune of US $247 million yr-1 by this process.

The Australian Environmental protection authority has given permission to built waste to energy plant at Kwinana (abc.net.au 2015). The waste to energy plant will come up by 2017 with a capacity to process 225,000 tonnes, energy to provide 23,000 houses. However all waste will not be used for the purpose of this plant. The plant will be using household wastes which are non-recyclable.

Sweden follows a policy of zero waste (Sweden.se 2013). As of 2015 Sweden recycles more than 99 percent of all house hold waste. The Swedish government encourages household to separate and segregate all house hold waste. In this way all house hold solid waste   can be managed by the processes of reuse, recycle and composting. More than 50% of all solid household waste is used by incinerating plants to generate energy. Sweden imports 700,000 tonnes of wastes. Solid waste for Sweden is a relatively cheap source of energy.

The waste generation of Australia has shown a phenomenal increase of 145% from 1997 to 2012 (Abs.gov.au 2016). Masonry materials were the largest waste generated by Australia accounting for 19.8 million tonnes. The waste from households in Australia is estimated to be 1.5 million tonnes per household per year. The waste is processed in three different ways: (1) landfill, (2) recovery for domestic use and (3) recovered for exports. Waste management services (AWMS) in Australia made an income of $9,595m during 2009-10 by way of treating of the waste. The AWMS supplied raw materials to the paper, cardboard, metals and organic industry to the tune of $2,275m in 2009-10.

The recycling sector in Australia is tasked with the recycling of raw materials and other non-waste products. In 2010-11the estimated turnover of resource recovery is $6,143m.  (environment.gov.au 2012).  The turnover in the recycling sector is estimated to be $6m in 2010-11. The recycling materials are those materials which are used for landfill. The turnover depends on the cost of the materials used for the landfill. The landfill levies also contributes to the cost. The landfill levies at municipal areas is estimated to be $10 per tonne of waste plus the consumer price index for 2015-16.

According to ABS Australians contribute about 2 tonnes of wastes which is a mix of household and industrial waste (ehp.qld.gov.au 2016). Queensland recycles about 77% of newspapers and 18% of plastic products. Presently Australia recycles just 55% of all aluminium cans. Queensland has cash-a-can and the cash-for-can centres. Organizations like Alcoa and Amcor recycle aluminium cans (environment.gov.au 2012). Since 100% of aluminium is recyclable thus it makes sense to recycle aluminium. Besides this the recycling of aluminium also saves in energy for the aluminium sector. In 2010 Australia saved about 191.41GJ/tonnes of energy requirement.

The domestic waste management in Australia had a history of collecting waste from the household and disposing it at remote locations (Gillespie and Bennett 2012). But since the disposing of waste as landfill has a downside the waste policy in Australia since 1992 has been to minimize waste and thus focus towards recycling. As a national plan the national kerbside recycling of household waste was started in 1992. A study in Brisbane found that Australians were willing to pay upto A$131.49 per annum for the fortnight kerbside recycling facility.

Most cities in Australia have a waste management plan. The waste management plan is the commitment by the municipality towards providing sustainable waste management (cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au 2016, basscoast.vic.gov.au 2012). The waste management plan is a solid waste strategy towards zero waste management. The municipalities plan to introduce carbon tax and provide for increased consumer responsibility through the use of controls and levies. The municipalities plan to introduce consumer education towards solid waste management. More of the solid waste being generated is planned to be diverted from landfill towards recycle and reuse.

The city of Sydney collected 267,000 tonnes in 2015 of which 50% was recycled. The city recycled 40,000 tonnes of household waste in 2015. This provides for a 100% waste renewable city. All this generates revenue for the city of Sydney. 

Australia has a rich stock of minerals (Corder, Golev and Guirco 2015). The value of the metals in Australia with the end-of-life is estimated to be AUS $ 6 billion. Different organizations in Australia recover metals from waste to the tune of AUS $2 billion. Besides this recovery metals to the tune of 3.5 million tonnes per year are exported to other countries since Australia does not at present have the technology to process these scraps.

Research Hypothesis

Based on the above research questions on solid waste management some hypothesis was developed. The hypothesis for the present research is:

Hypothesis 1

  1. The null hypothesis: There is no relation between biodegradable waste and revenue generation
  2. The alternate hypothesis: There is a relation between biodegradable waste and revenue generation

Hypothesis 2

  1. The null hypothesis: The municipality does not generate revenue by way of solid waste management
  2. The alternate hypothesis: The municipality generates revenue by way of solid waste management.

Research objective

The objective of the research is as follows:

  • To find the ways by which the municipality handles biodegradable waste
  • To find if the house hold uses the cash-for-can facilities.
  • To find what the household does with solid non-biodegradable waste

Research Methodology

To address the present research on solid waste management a survey questionnaire would be developed (Flick 2015). Primary data would be used for the present research. The data would be collected from households of the municipalities. The primary data from is chosen since it helps to collect a large data. The focus of the survey would be find the business prospects of Solid Waste management and does common household waste contribute to solid waste management. The survey would strive to get to understand how much of biodegradable waste is generated by the households. The survey would also find how much of recyclable materials (Aluminium, paper, metals) are recycled in process like cash-for-can and offers like these.  Warunasinghe and Yapa (2016) gave a method of the process of data collection. Exploratory data analysis would be used to measure the level of biodegradable waste generated per annum in a municipality area. The amount of recycled materials generated by the households per annum and its economic value would be found The present research is based on the fact that households generate a considerable amount of solid wastes. The solid wastes being generated at the households can be segregated as biodegradable, recyclable and non-reusable. The biodegradable waste being generated at the households can be composted as manure for agriculture use. It could also be used to generate energy which is much cheaper and environment friendly than other forms of energy. The aluminium cans, PET and glass bottles being generated at the households can be sold at the cash-for-can places for giving economic benefits to the households. The analysis of the data would represent the energy potential of the biodegradable waste and therefore the revenue potential being generated by the households per annum. The analysis would also provide an insight into the business prospects of the recyclable materials.

Data collection

In any research the process of sampling plays a very important role. The present research would be based on quantitative research techniques (Rea and Parker 2014). The sample size would consist of 500 households selected at random. The selected households should represent the whole population of the city. The households would be mailed the questionnaire. Since each and every household generate some form of waste hence all the households can be participants to the present research.

Data analysis

The analysis of the data would be done in Microsoft Excel (Winston 2014).  The demographic profile of the households would be mapped. The quantity of biodegradable wastes generated by the households would be accounted. This would give an insight into the energy generation capacity of the households and thereby the place. The amount of aluminium cans, glass and PET bottles generated would be accounted. This would give an idea about the revenue the household can get back as a result of recycling of the cans.

The analysis of the data would also give an idea about the business prospects that a households solid wastes can have.

Expected Research Outcome

The present study would demonstrate the solid waste management taking place at the household levels. It would give an idea into the generation of different wastes by the common households. The amount of biodegradable waste being generated by the household would give an idea about the        amount of energy that can be generated. The energy being generated is the business potential of the biodegradable waste of the household. Similarly the number of aluminium cans being sold at cash-for-can stores would be analysed. This is the amount of revenue that is gained by the households by recycling the aluminium cans. Also since aluminium is 100% recyclable this represents the business prospect of the recycled aluminium cans. Also the business prospects of recycled glass and PET bottles would be analysed.

The revenue generation by the municipality as a result of the energy generation by the biodegradable matter, the recycling of aluminium, glass and PET bottles by the municipality would be analysed. The present research would provide an insight into the business prospects of solid waste management of household wastes.

Conclusion

Solid waste management is the process of reusing the usable materials being generated from the households. Households should be aware of the usability of the waste that is being generated. This awareness helps to generate revenue for the households and the municipality. The recycling process also helps to keep the environment clean. Australia is progressing towards zero waste management from solid waste management. The concept that all solid waste being generated by the households and the industry can be reduced, reused and recycled has given rise to the concept of zero waste management. By the process of the 3R’s we can make the Earth a more liveable place. With the 3R’s there is a great business prospect. If only all the wastes being generated can be properly utilised the revenue generation and the savings to the economy be found.

References

ABC News. (2015). Third waste conversion plant given green light in WA. [online] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-02/third-waste-conversion-plant-approved-in-wa/6064346 [Accessed 9 Oct. 2016].

Abs.gov.au. (2016). 4602.0.55.005 –  Waste Account, Australia, Experimental Estimates, 2013. [online] Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/4602.0.55.005Main%20Features42013?opendocument [Accessed 9 Oct. 2016].

Basscoast.vic.gov.au (2016). Waste management Plan 2012-2016 [online] Available at: http://www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/getmedia/f39ca775-23d5-4f0d-97b2-618061e53611/BCSC_Waste_Management_Plan.pdf. [Accessed 9 Oct. 2016].

Burnley. S., 2014 Solid Wastes Management. Wiley

Chandrappa, R. and Das, D. (2012). Solid waste management. Berlin: Springer.

Cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au. (2016). Waste management – City of Sydney. [online] Available at: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/vision/towards-2030/sustainability/waste-management [Accessed 9 Oct. 2016].

Corder, G.D., Golev, A. and Giurco, D., 2015. “Wealth from metal waste”: Translating global knowledge on industrial ecology to metals recycling in Australia. Minerals Engineering, 76, pp.2-9.

Ehp.qld.gov.au. (2016). Reduce, reuse, recycle (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection). [online] Available at: https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/waste/minimisation/reduce_reuse_recycle.html [Accessed 9 Oct. 2016].

Flick, U. (2015). Introducing Research Methodology: A Beginner’s Guide to Doing a Research Project. 2nd Ed. Sage Publication

Gillespie, R. and Bennett, J., 2013. Willingness to pay for kerbside recycling in Brisbane, Australia. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management,56(3), pp.362-377.

Lou, X.F., Nair, J. and Ho, G., 2013. Potential for energy generation from anaerobic digestion of food waste in Australia. Waste Management & Research, p.0734242X12474334.

Matteson GC and Jenkins BM. (2007) Food and processing residue in California: Resource assessment and potential for power generation. Bioresource Technology 98: 3098–3105

Rea, L. and Parker, R. (2014). Designing and conducting survey research: A comprehensive guide. 4th Ed. John Wiley & Sons.

sweden.se. (2013). The Swedish recycling revolution. [online] Available at: https://sweden.se/nature/the-swedish-recycling-revolution/ [Accessed 9 Oct. 2016].

Thi, N.B.D., Kumar, G. and Lin, C.Y., 2015. An overview of food waste management in developing countries: current status and future perspective.Journal of environmental management, 157, pp.220-229.

Thi, N.B.D., Lin, C.Y. and Kumar, G., 2016. Electricity generation comparison of food waste-based bioenergy with wind and solar powers: A mini review. Sustainable Environment Research, 26(5), pp.197-202.

Winston, W. (2014). Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling. Pearson Education

www.environment.gov.au. (2012).  Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), The Australian recycling sector

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