How much plastic ends up in Australian landfills?

Every year, Australians use billions of plastic products. Straws, coffee cups, shopping bags, and packaging make up a large portion of our daily waste. And while many people are aware of the problem of plastic pollution, few realise just how much plastic ends up in our landfills. In fact, it is estimated that around 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated in Australia each year, with less than 10% of this being recycled. This means that around 2.1 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in landfill every year.

Households were the largest contributor, supplying 47% of all plastic waste (1.2 million tonnes).

  • 2.5 million tonnes generated
  • 3% of total waste, down from 4% in 2016-17
  • Only 9% was sent for recycling (227,000 tonnes), while 84% was sent to landfill (2.1 tonnes)
  • 32% of plastic waste was high density polyethylene (HDPE)
  • Households were the largest contributor, supplying 47% of all plastic waste (1.2 million tonnes); second was manufacturing at 15% (380,000 tonnes)
  • Plastic waste tonnage decreased by 3% since 2016-17

Sourced from the ABS. Released 6/11/2020


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