Waste management

Waste management

Leave nothing to waste

Our strategy for managing Sydney’s resources to 2030

Our waste strategy and action plan 2017–2030 outlines waste management action to achieve our zero waste target by 2030. It will help us respond more effectively to the increasing demand for resources as our residential, worker and visitor populations continue to grow.

The strategy sets clear targets and recommendations to maximise diversion from landfill, focusing on 6 priority areas:

  1. promote innovation to avoid waste
  2. improve recycling outcomes
  3. sustainable design
  4. clean and clear streets
  5. better data management
  6. future treatment solutions.

The impact of waste on our environment 

If we don’t make changes to how we manage waste, by 2030 the local area’s households and businesses will be sending over 200,000 tonnes of waste to landfill a year. Yet it’s unlikely there will be landfills close to Sydney capable of taking waste by then. We may have to send it more than 250km away.

When waste or garbage is buried and decomposes over time it emits greenhouse gases, principally methane.

Methane is 25 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and levels are growing with increased methane emissions from landfill and other forms of waste.

Landfill methane emissions currently contribute about 3% of Sydney’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

The City plans to develop advanced waste treatment plants, which will see the virtual elimination of non-recyclable waste going to landfill.

The plan for advanced waste treatment

Renewable gas can be derived from waste, including agricultural, horticultural, livestock manure, sewage, commercial, industrial and municipal waste and landfill. Technologies to do this are used globally, and the best options for the City of Sydney are set out in the advanced waste treatment master plan.

This will allow the City of Sydney to utilise the existing gas grid infrastructure to transport and deliver renewable gas to the local area.

The City has yet to identify a site for an AWT plant in close proximity to the city with optimal transport facilities and connections to the electricity and gas grids.

Creating energy from waste

The advanced waste treatment master plan will deliver ‘energy from waste’ for Sydney by:

  • recovering both material and energy resources from waste with virtually no waste going to landfill
  • converting non-recyclable waste to renewable and non-fossil fuel gases
  • converting renewable and non-fossil fuel gases into substitute natural gas for injection into the gas grid for lower carbon energy delivery, including supply of the City’s planned trigeneration network.

This is all about making the local area low-carbon and energy independent with an alternative source of renewable electricity, heating and cooling.

Technology used in Australia and around the world

There are 10 existing advanced waste treatment plants in Australia, processing up to 1 million tonnes of household and business waste each year.

Another 5 facilities across NSW, Queensland and Victoria currently recover energy from industry waste. Part of the energy supply for NSW and Queensland comes from power stations at sugar mills running on waste. There are a further 10 facilities for recovering energy from waste in planning and development across Australia, using waste from agriculture, households and businesses.

Hundreds of advanced waste treatment facilities are in operation around the world.

Please note: Our advanced waste treatment master plan is a supporting document to our Environmental Action 2016–2021 strategy and action plan, which is the City's most up-to-date set of environmental targets and actions. 


The City of Sydney's plan for waste you can't recycle

Last updated: Wednesday, 8 November 2017