What is waste?

Waste is unwanted or unusable materials also referred to as rubbish, trash, refuse, garbage or junk.

In living organisms, waste is the unwanted substances or toxins expelled from them. More commonly, waste refers to the materials disposed of in a system of waste management.

Waste is directly linked to human development, both technologically and socially. The composition of different wastes have varied over time and location, with industrial development and innovation being directly linked to waste materials. Examples of this include plastics and nuclear technology. Some components of waste have economical value and can be recycled once correctly recovered.

Waste is sometimes a subjective concept, because items that some people discard may have value to others. It's widely recognised waste materials are a valuable resource, whilst there is debate as to how this value is best realised.

There are many waste types defined by modern systems of waste management, notably including:

  • municipal solid waste 
  • construction waste and demolition waste
  • institutional waste, commercial waste, and industrial waste
  • medical waste
  • hazardous waste, radioactive waste, and electronic waste
  • biodegradable waste

Waste Management

Waste management is the collection, transport, processing, recycling or disposal, and monitoring of waste materials.[1] The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity, and is generally undertaken to reduce their effect on health, the environment or aesthetics. Waste management is also carried out to recover resources from it. Waste management can involve solid, liquid, gaseous or radioactive substances, with different methods and fields of expertise for each.

The Town's kerbside recycling service is in place to divert parts of the waste stream (including materials that have value for sale or reuse such as aluminium, steel cans, old newspapers, glass and plastics) from ending up in landfill. However, while it's important to continue to recover these items, it's also extremely important to address the nutrient loading problem of the organic material going to the landfill.

There's an immediate need to reduce these impacts wherever possible. Most of the negative effects result from the organic materials buried in landfills. Examples of organic nasties are green waste from gardens and food scraps from the kitchen. These can cause serious problems for water supplies, rivers and lakes. They also create large amounts of methane, which is a greenhouse gas that is about 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

While there are now better engineered landfills to reduce groundwater contamination and some methane gas produced is captured and used for energy generation, in order to reduce the negative effects there is still an urgent need to reduce the amount of waste buried in landfills.

Tamala Park and Refuse Recovery Facility

Tamala Park landfill is where Town of Cambridge waste ends up; it has a limited life span and no new sanitary landfill sites are encouraged to be located on the Perth Coastal Plain. Therefore, future sites will need to be located further inland, resulting in long haul distances increasing costs and greenhouse gas production. It's essential to reduce the waste to landfill for the obvious environmental benefits and to prolong the life of Tamala Park given there will, at least in the short to medium term, still be a requirement to landfill the residual portion of the waste stream from the resource recovery process.

The Refuse Recovery Facility (RRF) at Neerabup is addressing these issues and is in line with the guiding principles and 'vision' of the Waste Management Board of towards zero waste in Western Australia:

  • prevention - To avoid the creation of waste;
  • recovery - To effectively recover, retreat and reuse all wastes; and
  • disposal - To responsibly manage waste into the environment.

Waste disposal/processing costs will continue to increase and this together with an improved recycling service will result in a higher cost of delivering a sustainable waste service; however the benefit to the environment will far exceed the overall small cost increase per household.

Another major concern to the sustainability of Tamala Park and all landfills is the contamination of the landfill with hazardous household waste. Household hazardous waste (HHW) is the term for common household chemicals and substances for which the owner no longer has a use. These substances exhibit many of the same dangerous characteristics as fully regulated hazardous waste due to their potential for reactivity, ignitability, corrosivity, toxicity, and persistence. Examples include drain cleaners, oil paint, motor oil, antifreeze, fuel, poisons, pesticides, herbicides and rodenticides, fluorescent lamps, lamp ballasts, smoke detectors, medical waste, some types of cleaning chemicals, and consumer electronics (such as televisions, computers, and cell phones).

Batteries and flourescent lamps

Certain items such as batteries and fluorescent lamps can be returned to retail stores for disposal. Batteries can be disposed of at Tamala Park Recycling Centre, Balcatta Recycling Centre and Brockway Transfer Station Recycling Centre along with any other Household Hazardous Waste. Compact fluorescent light globes should be stored in a container and transported for recycling to these centres or disposed of at a local DFL recycling unit.

Visit the Waste Services page for information about recycling and general waste services the Town.

Last Updated: 11/08/2014