Discuss about the Municipal Solid Waste and Environment.
Solid waste management refers to process with the help of which solid wastes are collected and treated. This process offers a variety of solutions for the purpose of recycling the items that do not belong to trash or garbage (Wong, Surampalli, Selvam, Tyagi & Zhang, 2016). Waste management is considered to be a process which changes the solid waste in a manner such that it can be utilized as a valuable resource (Rada, 2016). This report addresses the municipal solid waste management in Queensland by way of highlighting the characteristics of solid waste generation, prevailing solid waste generation system, institutional and financial aspects, forecast of future waste quantities and the main problem, challenges, issues and gaps.
Queensland is the third most populated and second largest state in the Commonwealth of Australia. It is surrounded by the South Australia, Northern Territory and New South Wales to the south, south- west and west respectively. The east borders of Queensland include Pacific Ocean and Coral Sea and its north borders include Torres Strait. Queensland is considered to be the 6th largest sub- national entity of the world with a total area of 1,852,642 km2. The population of Queensland is 4,750,500 which are concentrated along the south east of the state and the coast (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015).
The largest city and the capital of the state is Brisbane. Queensland is often referred to as the ‘Sunshine State’. Tourism is the major industry of Queensland which is fueled to a great extent by its warm tropical climate (Stone, 2016). Queensland is considered to be less centralized in comparison with most of the other states of Australia due to the fact that 50% of its population lives outside the capital of state. Queensland is home to various regional cities including the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Toowoomba, Bundaberg and Rockhampton (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015).
Solid Waste Generation and Physical Characteristics
Approximately 30.9% or 832,000 tonnes of the 2.7 million tonnes of the reported municipal solid waste in 2016- 17 were recovered (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, 2017). These figures have been subsequently reduced from the 32.8% achieved during 2015- 16. Such decrease is being attributed to the reduction in the volume of domestic green waste informed by the local governments. The management of 8,500 tonnes of illegally dumped waste and litter has been reported by the local governments at the cost of $18 million in 2016- 17. This has subsequently been reduced from the figures reported in 2015- 16 i.e. 12,600 tonnes (Glanville & Chang, 2015). The waste facilities of private sector including monofills, landfills and incinerators handled 57% of the headline waste sent for disposal. This has increased around 3% from 2015- 16. Out of this waste, disposing of 19% of the municipal solid waste has been reported by private sector landfills. The increase in the private landfill was due to the main contributors which was an 117,000 tonne increase in the receipt of the quantity of municipal solid waste. The data further provides that 73% of the municipal solid waste is received by landfills in South East Queensland. The physical characteristics of waste in Queensland provide its size distribution of components, density and moisture content (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, 2017). The density and moisture content of solid waste in Queensland vary according to storage, season and location. Moisture content plays an important part in the economic viability of treatment of waste in Queensland by burning as energy and is consumed by wet waste for evaporation of water (Nabavi-Pelesaraei, Bayat, Hosseinzadeh-Bandbafha, Afrasyabi & Chau, 2017).
Exiting Solid Waste Management System
A number of programs are included in the Cassowary Coast Region Council (CCRC) such as waste collection program, waste receipt and disposal program, program for litter management and waste minimization, etc. The program for assortment of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is the responsibility of council (Vergara & Tchobanoglous, 2012). A wheelie bin service is offered by the Waste Section for the purpose of collection of waste material in South (old Cardwell Shire) and North (old Johnstone Shire). The waste collected from southern system is deemed wet and is therefore taken to Mareeba for disposal. In the northern system, dry bins are present for recyclables on transfer station floor. The program for waste disposal depends on the basis of organization and procedure of the facilities for solid waste receivable (transfer stations) and facilities for waste disposal (landfills) (Arafat, Jijakli & Ahsan, 2015).
The Southern Downs Regional Council engages in a contract with JJ Richards for the removal of municipal, domestic and recyclable waste. All the urban and non- urban areas are provided with the collection service where there is concentration of rural population (Allesch & Brunner, 2014). The collection facilities for domestic users are incorporated in two 240 litre bins. Waste is collected from southern transfer facilities by JJ Richards 5 to 6 tomes every week and twice a week from Wallangarra Transfer Facility. Recyclables are collected by The Endeavour Foundation every week from transfer facilities. Waste is collected by JJ Richards from northern transfer facilities every week. The collected waste is then taken to Warwick Central Waste Management Facility. Then the recyclable material that is collected at transfer facilities is transferred to any of the centrally located recovery and recycling facilities of the Region (Southern Downs Regional Council, 2016).
Comprehensive facilities such as Warwick and Stanthorpe Waste Management Facility deposit the waste collected from transfer facilities, households and commercial premises. It recycles glass, aluminium cans, plastics, batteries, steel, steel cans, re-salable goods, etc. other recycling undertaken involves oil, scrap metal, green and timber waste, tyres, etc. (Yang, Zhou & Xu, 2015). There are 6 licensed landfills in the region for the purpose of disposing the waste (Southern Downs Regional Council, 2016).
Institutional and Financial Aspects
Queensland’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Strategy 2010- 2020 provides that the funding for programs that aims to improvise the prevention of practices related to waste and resource recovery is managed by the government of Queensland. This is done by way of introducing a waste disposal levy by Queensland Government. A source of funding is provided by the levies for delivering the waste reduction programs (White, Franke & Hindle, 2012). Legislative framework in Queensland for environmental waste management provides that such responsibility is shared between industry, government and business and the community in resource recovery and waste management. The programs and actions initiated by the government of Queensland provide that waste is the responsibility of everybody and for the purpose of achieving enhanced practices, public must possess the capability for recycling. The corporations that collect recyclable materials should also have a market for such goods (Kinnaman, 2017).
The prediction of future waste quantities for Queensland provide that by the year 2026, around 1,321 tonnes per annum of incinerable waste every year will need management at the port for consequent disposal to landfill. Moreover, the prediction provides that around 37 per cent of this waste which is nearly 488 tonnes per annum will be generated over the baseline scenario. Also, nearly 1,467 tonnes per annum of non- incinerable waste will need subsequent management with the help of local facilities of waste management and handling at the port. Approximately 453 tonnes per annum i.e. 37 per cent is predicted to be generated above baseline in 2026. In other words, the total waste comprising of incinerable and non- incinerable is estimated to be 2,786 tonnes per annum to be handled in the year 2026 at the port. However, there is no accurate prediction of the proportion of waste that is regarded as hazardous or regulated. It is further predicted that the volume of waste will grow nearly 4 % every year on the basis of the estimations linked with Cairn’s Waste Transfer Stations. Moreover, this growth rate is expected to be changed in the future if effective steps are taken for its reduction by the year 2025. Queensland’s Waste Avoidance and Resource Productivity Strategy (2014- 2024) estimated the waste generated quantity to be 2.4 tonnes per person for households and businesses from three waste streams i.e. construction and demolition waste, commercial and industrial waste and municipal solid waste. This is considered to be an increase from the estimated waste generation of 2007. Queensland will recover and recycle 65% of municipal solid waste by the year 2024 (Environmental Impact Statement, 2014).
Major Problems, Challenges, Issues and Gaps
Landfill is often chosen by Queensland over recycling, specifically in the business sector and it is considered to be an unsustainable problem. Various challenges are faced by Queensland in addressing waste management. Pressure is created on the environment due to everyday activities (Pharino, 2017). Rapid increase in waste generation is being witnessed in Queensland. There has been 40 % growth in waste generation between 2003- 04 and 2007- 08. On the other hand, same period also noticed a severe increase in population and retail turnover by 10 per cent and 31 percent. The waste reduction in Queensland along with resource recovery is still a challenge. One of the significant challenges to confront is the viewpoint that the manner of doing things adopted now is not wrong (Pharini, 2017). Moreover, the effective management of waste is leading to lack of understanding that there is a large volume of waste generation which in turn is creating difficulty in the maintenance of services and infrastructure (Permana, Towolioe, Aziz & Ho, 2015). The perception is such that there are a number of places for putting waste in Queensland. Most areas in Queensland do not have high population densities. Moreover, there are inadequate space for landfills which create problems for areas like Melbourne and Sydney (The Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory, 2010).
The issues include that there is constant increase in waste generation due to increased disposable income, convenience-led lifestyle, unsustainable consumption, etc. (Unnisa & Rav, 2012). Moreover, the population distribution and size of Queensland is large. Also, the existing investment levels do not facilitate delivering of performances required for attaining sustainable performance and improved practices. Another issue is the difficulty faced in minimizing the impact of climate change on waste management (Queensland Parliament, 2013).
Queensland is committed to confront the generation of waste along with aiming for the reduction of such waste generation for every Queenslander by 400 kilograms by 2020. This is equal to complete statewide decrease in waste generation of greater than 2 million tonnes. For putting these targets into action, there are around 13000 green jobs linked with waste in Victoria while there are only 5000 with Queensland. This is the gap which is required to be closed with correct amount of investment (The Queensland Cabinet and Ministerial Directory, 2010).
Therefore, it can be concluded that large volume of municipal solid waste is generated in the third most populated and second largest state in the Commonwealth of Australia i.e. Queensland. The program for collecting Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is the responsibility of council. Comprehensive facilities such as Warwick and Stanthorpe Waste Management Facility deposit the waste collected from transfer facilities, households and commercial premises. It is then recycled or landfilled. The funding for programs related to waste management comes from the government. The legislative framework in Queensland provides that waste management is everyone’s responsibility. The issues and challenges include that there is constant increase in waste generation due to increased disposable income, convenience-led lifestyle, unsustainable consumption, etc. which is creating difficulties in effective waste management.
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