The Truth About Recycling Efforts. Is It Really Making A Difference?



We hear many questions from our clients on the sustainability practices of our waste management services. Where do our recyclables go? Are they actually sorted and recycled correctly? What’s the best way to sort recyclable waste? Recyclables are collected from residential and businesses and delivered to state-of-the-art Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs). Sorting waste when it arrives at the MRF can be a highly intensive and manual process as it is sorted first by hand. Once separated by hand, it will then be machine sorted automatically where metals are collected by large magnets and optical scanners separate plastic and paper. With their cutting-edge sorting methods, these facilities guarantee the best possible recovery of precious commodities including metals, glass, paper, and plastics. 


Once the sorting process is complete, materials are divided into distinct groups and formed into sizable bundles called bales. The only material that is not baled is glass. It is transferred to a glass colour-sorting facility via silos. Glass maintains its colour permanently and is separated according to colour to ensure proper recycling.


It’s time for all businesses to invest in sustainable practices and help create a greener future, with an increasing emphasis on local recycling infrastructure. At Nationwide we understand that the recycling process can be a complex task to manage. We can simplify even the most complex recycling processes. We offer cardboard recycling collection services, cardboard recycling Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Australia wide. Our team of experts are dedicated to sustainability and ensuring that each and every one of our clients receives timely, transparent and best practice advice. 



A summary of Australia’s waste generation and management, including who is in charge of the waste and how much of it is recycled, is given in the National Waste Report, which is published every two years. The most recent report, which was produced at the end of 2022, contrasts data from 2006–07 with fresh data from the financial year 2020–21.


The key findings that came from the report were: 


  • Australia’s recycling rate has climbed by 57% in the past 15 years, indicating that the industry is improving.

  • However, along with our expanding population comes an increase in the overall amount of waste we produce.

  • In the last 15 years, waste generation has increased by 20%. Australia’s population increased by 25% and its GDP by 38% over that period.

  • Australia produced 75.8 mega tonnes (Mt) of waste in 2020–21; of which 22.8 Mt came from the business and industrial sector, 29 Mt from construction and demolition, and 14 Mt from households and local governments.

  • In 2020–21, Australia’s resource recovery rate (which includes recycling, reuse, and energy recovery) was 63%, with recycling accounting for 60% of the total. This figure has not improved.

  • With a resource recovery percentage of 80%, South Australia surpassed all other states and territories (the ACT came in second with 69%).

  • Construction and demolition (C&D) contributed the most to Australia’s core waste in 2020–21 (45% of the total, excluding ash from electricity generation), but the industry also recovered the most materials (50 percent of materials recovered in Australia came from C&D).

  • A small number of the National Waste Targets have been met, whereas others have either not improved at all or have declined.


FACT: Australia’s yearly waste of 75.8 mega tonnes is equivalent to the weight of 471 Sydney Opera Houses’! 


The report shows that Australia has made some progress in recycling and waste management. In the last 15 years, waste creation has climbed by 20%, while recycling rates have improved by 57%. Even though recycling accounted for 60% of the 63% resource recovery rate, progress has stagnated. But notable successes, such as the 80% recovery rate in South Australia, show that sustainable waste management is possible with collaborative efforts. In order to promote a more sustainable and circular economy, closing the gap between waste creation and recycling rates requires more work. Partnering with the Nationwide team to map out your path to a more sustainable future is the key. Whether you need liquid waste management services, hazardous chemical removal or document shredding services, we can help.  


We’ve all heard of the concept of creating a circular economy, but what does that really mean and what can we all do to contribute to a greener future. The “circular economy” seeks to eliminate waste and pollution during a material’s whole lifecycle. This covers all aspects, including the origin of materials (such as mines or forests), the process of producing products, and the ultimate usage and disposal. When a product’s life is over, in a circular economy, it is either carefully disposed of back into the environment or recycled back into the production process. This maximises sustainability processes, encourages resource efficiency and is based on clean, renewable energy sources. 


Organisations and Governments are working continuously to implement innovative initiatives in creating a circular economy. The Waste Hierarchy is an integral part of Australia’s waste management activities. Those at the top of the pyramid are the most beneficial to the environment and an expanded view of the pyramid to extend the top levels can shed light on those actions that we can all focus on everyday at work or at home.  


Source: BehaviourWorks Australia (2022a)


Waste prevention is a long standing issue and there’s well-established waste prevention initiatives in place across Australia and globally. Lean manufacturing is one of them. Others include leasing products that promote longer lifespans and reuse, repairing and recycling cars and appliances, providing avenues for donations of excess or unsold food or unwanted household goods to be given to others, and operating charity stores that resell donated goods. 


“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” 

Mahatma Gandhi.


The Earth is impacted by the decisions we make on a daily basis. There’s many changes we can make to our everyday lives to create a more sustainable environment, such as the below. 


At home you can: 

  • Use a reusable coffee cup and water bottle 

  • Keep reusable grocery bags on hand

  • Only buy something new if you need it and recycle those you don’t

  • Create your own compost and grow veggies

  • Avoid single use plastics, straws and utensils

  • Buy second hand and donate used goods

  • Shop local and buy Australian made 


In addition, in the workplace you can: 

  • Develop a strong workplace ethos around waste minimisation

  • Appoint a ‘waste champion’ who is passionate and can lead the process

  • Place bins clearly throughout your business to encourage waste segregation

  • Set targets for waste management and track progress

  • Partner with an experienced and sustainable waste management company 


The Nationwide team are specialists in all facets of waste management. We work in collaboration with our clients to educate, plan and implement sustainable waste processes to create real change. Whether it’s reviewing current processes and making recommendations or providing specific services to manage clinical waste bins or hazardous chemical removal and disposal, we’ve got a solution that will work for you. 


We know that recycling saves precious resources and reduces waste, which has a positive impact on the environment. Recycling initiatives, as we’ve seen, still have a long way to go to be as effective as possible and drive change. Businesses and individuals alike, need to focus more on environmentally friendly methods of managing waste and recycling. Services like timber and wood recycling, grease trap cleaning and grease trap waste management are a top priority for our team.

As new recycling technologies advance continuously, processes improve  and become more effective. Our team is all about creating opportunities to improve processes, having open and transparent communications and providing ongoing support. Contact our team today to start the journey towards a circular economy and greener tomorrow.  


Other services Nationwide Waste Solutions provides include:


Skip hire

Wheelie bin collections

Brisbane waste services

Melbourne waste services

Sydney waste services

Bulk liquid waste disposal in Brisbane

Bulk liquid waste disposal in Melbourne

Bulk liquid waste in Sydney

Electronics recycling

Food organic waste collections

Plastic baler rental

Stretch wrap recycling

Sanitary bin service

Scheduled pest services