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.

Reducing waste from our events and services

We’re committed to continuous improvement when it comes to reducing waste across all of our operations including events.

The temporary nature of events can often increase our reliance on single-use items. These items are typically products and packaging we dispose of after one use.

In many instances, these items are not recycled because the type of material used isn’t recyclable or it can’t be collected separately.

We’ve developed guidelines for single-use items to assist staff and event managers to find more sustainable alternatives to single-use items and how to ensure where waste is generated, recycling is maximised.

The City has committed to phasing out the use of the following single-use items in our buildings, at our own venues and at events in our local area.

  • bottled water
  • plastic straws
  • plastic serveware (including items made from expanded polystyrene)
  • plastic utensils
  • promotional flyers
  • plastic single-use sampling or giveaways
  • single-use cups.

The guidelines also include details of available alternatives to commonly purchased single-use items.

Please note: Our Leave nothing to waste strategy and action 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.

Last updated: Wednesday, 22 May 2019