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Green Waste Management in Australia

Green waste, also known as organic waste, takes up a considerable portion of the total waste produced in Australia every year. Contrary to unpopular concern, green waste requires attention and proper management like any other waste.

In this article, we’re going to discuss green waste, about what they are, its consequences, and techniques to recycle properly.

What is Green Waste?

Green waste is considered as biodegradable waste, which means they can gradually decompose. They can consist of any organic materials. Green waste is broken down through natural processes, with the help of bacteria. Bacteria feed on the materials and eventually compost the biological product. Most of the times, biodegradation turns green waste into useful fertilisers. It is essentially the reason why green waste disposal should be handled with priority and care.

Common Green Waste in Australia

Green waste that is found in Australia, generally include categories of garden waste, food waste, and other types of organic waste. Grass and flower cuttings, shrub and yard clipping, woodchips, bark, hedge trimmings, weeds, fallen leaves or branches, domestic or commercial food waste and other forms of organic waste, all fall under the category of green waste.

Green Waste Disposal

Here are a few facts-

  • Research shows that each of the Australian households throws over around 2.6 million tonnes of food waste every year.
  • Combining that with garden waste, about 50% of the total garbage found in a household contains organic waste.
  • 47% of that waste winds up in landfills, unrecycled.

Why Green Waste is Harmful to the Environment

A recent study conducted by Sustainable Gardening Australia shows that yearly 400kg of green waste generated from a single household is disposed of without being recycled. Unrecycled green waste is responsible for releasing methane gas and at this rate, 15.3kg methane gas is emitted and released to the atmosphere from each of the houses every year. Methane is greenhouse gas, and it is responsible for global warming, making it harmful for both the environment and human being alike.

On the other hand, when you dump garden waste, you’re increasing the risk of fire inadvertently. The dumped waste dries and becomes potential fuel, adding to the already present debris around it.

Improper disposal of green waste can affect the water drainage system as well. It’s not uncommon for a kitchen sink to get clogged because of un-dissolved food particles. Lawn clippings and fallen leaves can also create a blockage in drainage systems, which can in turn block waterways and cause floods.

Above all, improper dumping of green waste directly impacts the visual aesthetics of an area, and consequently, it can attract further illegal dumping.

Legal Consequences for Improper Disposal

Improper disposal of green waste has both environmental and legal consequences. If you are caught with displacing green waste disposal, you may have to pay hundreds of dollars in penalties, or in extreme cases, thousands. In addition, the Australian government is employing better law enforcement and increasing fines to discourage improper dumping. This is not just for punishment, but to inspire green waste recycling for better use.

How to Recycle and Reuse Green Waste

So the question arises, how to conduct proper waste management and process green waste for a useful outcome? Fortunately for us, organic waste tends to be 100% recyclable among the massive pile of rubbish Australians produce each day.

There are a few practised and productive ways of recycling green waste. Let’s take a quick look at each of them.

  • The foremost use of recycled products is in the production of energy. Thermal treatment of waste generates heat and produces energy, and green waste is a great source of biofuel, biogas and even electricity.
  • Composting is another great way to recycle and reuse green waste as fertilisers. Using cuttings from your garden to create the best food for your plants is a perfect example of recycling.  Composting can be done at home easily, and it doesn’t require any energy resources as well.
  • Alternatively, you can approach a professional waste management service for your green waste disposal. They use systematic processes to recycle organic waste and compost for reusing as fertilisers so that the green waste is not wasted at all.

Here is a video by Vox showing the ways to reduce the food waste:

National Waste Report of Australia suggests that average Australian individuals produce around 2.7 million tonnes of waste a year, making it 64 million tonnes in total. While that is an overwhelming number, the good news is, around 31.7 million of the total waste is recycled. This indicates that not only the campaigns encouraging proper waste disposal are working, but there is also a potential for recycling much of this waste.

Since green waste has a 100% recycling rate and better use, the disposal of green waste should be given more attention from personal to industry level. Illegal and improper removal of green waste results in a penalty, whilst the benefits of recycling these organic waste are much more rewarding. It reduces waste in landfill, greenhouse gas emission, and produces high-quality compost for a change. Above all, proper disposal of green waste and recycling serves the environment, promoting a positive change in the making.

References: Back to Earth InitiativeDepartment of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

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