National Typology and Measurement Priorities for Waste Prevention in Australia

As part of the National Waste Policy, Australia aims to reduce the total amount of waste generated in the country by 10% per person by 2030.

Initially, this may not seem like a lot, but does amount to approximately 300 kilograms of less waste per person at the same time that our economy will grow..

Recognised as the key facilitator of achieving circularity in the Australian economy, ‘waste prevention’ is an essential means for the current waste infrastructure to cope with existing and anticipated future demands; thus, reducing waste’s impacts on our terrestrial and marine environments.

Waste avoidance is acknowledged as a top priority. However, Australia is faced with the problem of having no direct or primary measurement of waste generation or avoidance. Furthermore, there is no standardised or widely used set (or typology) of waste avoidance activities commonly acknowledged by governments and other waste and resource recovery stakeholders in Australia. This raises issues of being able to accurately  understand overall trends in waste avoidance, or in activities like reuse and repair, thus potentially hindering national goals of reducing the amount of waste generated in the country.

This project builds on BehaviourWorks’ research characterising a common set of waste avoidance activities (e.g. reuse, repair, share) and work for the Victorian government to measure waste avoidance as part of the Recycling Victoria policy.

The challenge:
Identify, define and prioritise the range of waste prevention activities that occur within a circular economy, in order to develop measurement methods to eventually feed into national waste reporting.
Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE)
What are our goals:

To develop a nationally agreed typology of waste prevention activities with an Australian circular economy.

To develop and test methods for measuring waste avoidance activities and outcomes, including at national and sub-national scales. 

BWA will partner with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), who will design the technical measurement method.

What are we doing:

We are engaging with relevant stakeholders to develop an agreed set (or typology) of waste prevention activities in Australia - the National Typology.

We are conducting a thorough review of the literature to understand how other localities, governments, and organisations have attempted to measure, or are currently measuring, waste prevention.

  • Engaging stakeholders around Typology
  • Reviewing literature on measurement methods
What’s next:

Once agreed, the National Typology of Waste Prevention Activities in Australia will feed into the development of methods of measuring waste prevention behaviours across households, businesses and government.

One or more potential methods of measuring waste prevention activities and impacts will be developed and socialised by engaging with relevant stakeholders across the public, private, and community sectors, including behavioural surveys for households, businesses and other organisations.

As part of this, BehaviourWorks will pilot a household survey and establish a baseline of national waste prevention behaviours for the community.

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