Management of Household Plastic Waste in Wollongong, Australia: The Role of Selective Waste Collection Systems
2. Case Study
4.1. Mapping of the Waste Management System
4.2. Estimation of Plastic Waste Weight That Is Transported through the Waste Management System
4.2.1. Selective Waste Collection Systems of Plastic
|Self-haul collection||A5||VPDs||Residents||WCC||Formal||Items listed above, especially those which will not fit the door-to-door collection bin (e.g., outdoor plastic furniture)||2038.87|
|Kerbside recycling collection||A6||Door-to-door||Private provider||WCC||Formal||Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high density polyethylene (HDPE), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), plastic film/bags, polystyrene (PS), expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, plastic furniture, plastic composite||1827.53|
|Return and Earn||A8 & A15||Deposit scheme||Residents||NSW Government||Formal||PET, HDPE, and Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) drink containers (e.g., water and beer containers)||267.94|
|Community collection programs||A9||VPDs||Residents||Community program operator||Informal||Conditional to the donation site operator||-|
|REDcycle program||A10 & A17||VPDs||Residents||RED Group||Formal||Soft plastic (e.g., biscuit packets, fresh produce bags)||16.12|
- A5—Self-haul collection
- A6—Kerbside recycling collection
|A1||Private||Council||Polypropylene non-packaging, plastic bags, plastic film and plastic composite||35.24||The FOGO collection is illustrated in A1. This service is performed weekly by the service provider and collects food and garden waste (e.g., kitchen scraps, leaves, small branches and weeds). Residents are offered green-lidded wheeled bins which they must use only for food and garden waste disposal. Nevertheless, the 2019 Wollongong City Council Audit Report, provided by the service provider to the research team, shows that there is plastic contamination in this waste stream. The plastic waste contamination collected by FOGO was determined based on the results of this audit report.|
|A2||Private||Council||Any||5249.06||This arrow represents the residual waste collection performed weekly by the private provider. Residents are provided with red-lidded wheeled bins for their residual waste. Acceptable items are most items that cannot be recycled or placed in the green-lidded wheeled bins (FOGO collection). Household bulky waste items (see A3 & A7) are not collected via regular waste collection. The plastic waste collected via the regular waste collection was determined based on the 2019 Wollongong City Council Audit Report.|
|A3||Private||Council||PET, HDPE, PVC, plastic film/bags, PS, EPS foam, plastic furniture, plastic composite||271.09||A3 & A7 depict the on-call household clean-up service of residual waste and recyclable waste, respectively. This service manages household bulky waste and is available to residents within Wollongong. Residents are entitled to use the service twice yearly and must separate regular and recyclable waste into two piles. Although A7 represents a formal door-to-door SWC collection system, this system does not accept plastic waste. The accepted items are mattresses, tyres, metal, and e-waste. The amount of plastic waste in A3 was estimated based the NSW Local Government Waste, Resource Recovery Data report 2018–2019  and the On-call Household Clean-up Audit Report prepared by the service provider in 2021. As there was no previous audit report for this service, we adopted the 2021 On-call Household Clean-up Audit Report.|
|A4||Volunteers||Council||Any||0.52||A11 & A12 represent the transportation of the litter items after they are collected and sorted into recyclable and residual waste by community-led environmental clean-up initiatives (A4). Volunteer community groups and individuals pitch in with the Council to remove litter from public areas such as parks, creeks and beachfront reserves. The private service provider transports the collected recyclable items to the transfer station (A11), whereas the collected residual items are transported to the landfill (A12). The weight of plastic in A4 was provided by the Council waste management officer (L. Hickson, personal communication, 10 May 2021). The proportions of the plastic weight in A4 sent to the transfer station and landfill were unknown by the Council. Although the plastic waste collected by community-led environmental clean-up initiatives has been sent to the transfer station (A11) in previous years, there was an indication that in 2018–2019 all weight collected was sent to the landfill (A12).|
|A11||Volunteers||Council||PET, HDPE, and PVC drink containers and packaging and PS, LDPE, and polyethylene (PP) packaging||0|
|A12||Volunteers||Council||All apart from the ones listed in A11||0.52|
|A13||Private||Council||No data available||1121.37||A13 & A14 depict the transportation of residual and recyclable waste from the CRC to the landfill and the transfer station, respectively. Recyclable, and residual, waste items are collected at the CRC via the self-haul collection which we classified as a VDP SWC system. Accordingly, self-haul collection is explained in detail in Section 4.2.1. According to , 45% of the material from CRC in NSW was recycled. In this way, it was assumed that 45% of the plastic waste that arrives at the Wollongong’s CRC (2038.87 tonnes, see A5 in Table 1) was transported to the transfer station to be recycled (A14) and that the remaining weight was sent to landfill (A13).|
|A14||Private||Council||No data available||917.49|
|A16||Program operator||It varies based on the community program operator||-||A16 illustrates the transportation of recyclable waste from community collection points to local recyclers. There is no data available on the amount of (plastic) waste collected through community collection programs. So, the amount of waste transported from community collection points to local recyclers is also not available. Accordingly, this study classifies community collection programs as an informal VDP SWC. More details about community collection programs can be found in Section 4.2.1|
|A18||Private||Council||PET, HDPE, and PVC drink containers and packaging and PS, LDPE, and PP packaging||1898.38||The transportation of recyclable waste from the transfer station to the MRF is shown in A18. The materials gathered at the transfer station are the recyclable materials collected via kerbside recycling, on-call household clean-up, and self-haul collections. The amount of plastic waste in A18 was estimated based on the per capita allocation of the waste amount received at MRFs in Australia .|
|A19||RED||Soft plastic||16.12||A19 displays the transportation of soft plastic waste from REDcycle drop-off bins to the RED Group’s facility. REDcycle program, which is a VDP SWC system, is presented in detail in Section 4.2.1 together with the definition of soft plastics. The soft plastic waste weight in A15 is equal to A10 plus A17 (see Table 1).|
|A20||MRF||PET, HDPE, PVC, and LDPE non-beverage/packaging; PP, PS and EPS non-packaging; EPS packaging; plastic film/bags||221.47||A20 represents the transport of waste items from the MRF to landfill. These items include residual waste or recyclable material that cannot be recovered in the MRF. The amount of plastic waste transported from the MRF to landfill was estimated based on Australian disposal data from 2018–2019 .|
|A21||MRF||PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP, PS, PVC, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)||752.75||A21 & A22 illustrates the transport of baled recycled materials from the MRF to offshore and local recyclers, respectively. Wollongong, like other Australian municipalities, sends part of its household waste to south-eastern Asian countries for reprocessing. After the waste ban, only plastic waste that has been sorted into a single resin or polymer type can be exported. Local recyclers are either in NSW or interstate. For estimating the amount of baled plastic recycled transported to offshore and local recyclers, it was adopted the proportion of Australian plastic waste reprocessed offshore and locally in 2018–2019 .|
|A22||MRF||PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP, PS, PVC, ABS||815.47|
|A23||Cleanaway||NSW EPA||PET, HDPE, and LDPE drink containers||128.62||A23 & A24 display the transportation of plastic drink containers collected via the Return and Earn scheme to offshore and local recyclers, respectively. Return and Earn scheme is a type of SWC, more precisely, a deposit scheme, described in Section 4.2.1. To estimate the amount of baled plastic recycled waste collected via Return and Earn that is transported to local and offshore recyclers, this study used the amount of plastic waste collected by the scheme and the proportions of Australian plastic waste reprocessed locally and offshore in 2018–2019 .|
|A24||Cleanaway||NSW EPA||PET, HDPE, and LDPE drink containers||139.32||A24 represents the transportation of soft plastic waste from the RED Group’s facility to local recyclers. Soft plastic collected by REDcycle program is reprocessed only onshore. The soft plastic waste amount transported from the RED Group’s facility to local recyclers is the same as the amount of soft plastic waste collected from the REDcycle drop-off bins (see Table 2).|
|A25||RED||Soft plastic||16.12||A25 represents the transportation of soft plastic waste from the RED Group’s facility to local recyclers. Soft plastic collected by REDcycle program is reprocessed only onshore. The soft plastic waste amount transported from the RED Group’s facility to local recyclers is the same as the amount of soft plastic waste collected from the REDcycle drop-off bins (see Table 1).|
|A26||-||-||Any||133.40||A26 shows the leakage of plastic waste into the natural environment. That is, plastic waste that ends up as litter in the marine and terrestrial ecosystem. To estimate the amount of plastic waste litter generated in Wollongong, the present study utilised the NSW Litter Report 2016–2020  and the composition of the beverage containers supplied to NSW in 2018–2019 . Part of the plastic waste which is leaked into the environment is collected by community-led environmental clean-up initiatives (see A4).|
- A8 & A15—Return and Earn
- A9—Community collection programs
- A10 & A17—REDcycle program
4.2.2. Other Waste Collection/Transportation
5. Challenges in the SWC Systems under Study
- about 20% (2111.59 tonnes) of the household plastic waste weight generated in Wollongong in 2018–2019 (10,317.30 tonnes) was collected via the municipality’s plastic-related SWC systems. This was estimated by summing the weights in A5–A10 (see Table 1).
- approximately 17% (1852.28 tonnes) of the household plastic waste generated in the municipality was recycled. The recycling rate was calculated based on the weights in A16 and A21–A25.
- over 55% (5741.62 tonnes) of the household plastic waste generated in Wollongong was sent to landfill. To estimate the amount of household plastic waste sent to the landfill, the weights in A2, A3, A11, A13 and A20 were summed.
5.1. Contamination Levels
5.2. Community Awareness
5.3. Lack of (Consistent) Waste Data
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|SWC||Selective waste collection|
|SDG||Sustainable Development Goals|
|VDP||Voluntary drop-off point|
|MRF||Material recovery facility|
|LGA||Local government area|
|NSW||New South Wales|
|WCC||Wollongong City Council|
|FOGO||Food and garden organics|
|CRC||Community Recycling Centre|
|RVM||Reverse vending machine|
|HDPE||high density polyethylene|
|ABS||acrylonitrile butadiene styrene|
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Bernardo, M.; Forehead, H.; De Carvalho Vallin, I.; Gonçalves-Dias, S.L.F. Management of Household Plastic Waste in Wollongong, Australia: The Role of Selective Waste Collection Systems. Sustainability 2023, 15, 1726. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15021726
Bernardo M, Forehead H, De Carvalho Vallin I, Gonçalves-Dias SLF. Management of Household Plastic Waste in Wollongong, Australia: The Role of Selective Waste Collection Systems. Sustainability. 2023; 15(2):1726. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15021726Chicago/Turabian Style
Bernardo, Marcella, Hugh Forehead, Isabella De Carvalho Vallin, and Sylmara L. F. Gonçalves-Dias. 2023. "Management of Household Plastic Waste in Wollongong, Australia: The Role of Selective Waste Collection Systems" Sustainability 15, no. 2: 1726. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15021726