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Sydney Waste By the Numbers: How Big is Our Waste Industry?

The problem of solid waste leaves no country or city unthreatened. Even developed countries which have the means and budget to control rubbish are still struggling with their waste management. 

Australia is one of the most wasteful developed countries. It produces over 43 Million Tonnes of rubbish every year. It isn’t surprising that the city of Sydney contributes the most to this volume. After all, it is Australia’s largest city and the most populous at that. 

So how much waste is really produced in the city? 

Sydney  Rubbish Numbers 

Sydney is home to more than 200,000 residents and 437,000 employment opportunities. In the next decade, these numbers are about to increase by 60,000 and 120,000, respectively reaching about 5.8 million people in 2030. Rubbish generation in Sydney is growing at a rate that is 6x faster than its population growth. 

The city generates more than 5,500 tonnes of rubbish each day and on the daily average, Sydney is estimated to have around 1.2 million residents, students, workers and visitors combined. Each person produces around 1 kg of wastes daily and 2 tonnes of rubbish yearly. These wastes contribute to approximately 8% of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the city also faces the challenge of collecting around 4,000 tonnes of illegally dumped wastes every year. 


  • Sydney has three major landfill sites: two are used for organic or putrescible waste while the last one is for non-organic junk. 
  • Of the 5,500 tonnes of rubbish produced daily in Sydney, more than 2,000 tonnes still end up in landfills.
  • In 2015, the Environment Protection Authority estimates Sydney’s spare landfill space to be 2.1 million tonnes per year.
  • More than half of the rubbish ending up in landfills comes from the city’s accommodation and entertainment industry. Other major landfill wastes generator is the commercial offices which account for 21% and the retail sector which accounts for 13% of wastes in landfills. 
  • The city’s community, medical and healthcare facilities, and the industrial division, together with other subsectors each dispose of 3% of the residual wastes in landfill sites while the remaining 1% comes from the educational sector.
  • The city of Sydney aims to convert 26% of its waste into energy in the year 2030. Together with the rubbishes processed in recycling and organic recovery facilities, the city intends to cut down its landfill wastes to only 3% by that year.

Recycling Centres

  • Sydney launched its Zero Waste campaign in 2010 with the goal to improve and expand on its recycling services. Since then, 69% of the daily rubbish generation in the city is recycled. Similarly, 63% of the total waste generated in NSW is recycled. 
  • In 2016, approximately 28% of the overall residential wastes are processed in the recycling centres of the City. This means that around 18,000 tonnes of Sydney’s MSW is segregated at source and diverted from landfills. 
  • Sydney targets to achieve 70% waste diversion from landfills and 35% recycling at source in 2021 up to 2030.
  • In contrast to source-separated recycling, Sydney also processes mixed recycling which amounts to 23% of the city’s total waste. In 2021, they aim to increase mixed recycled wastes by 2000 tonnes.

Waste Stream

Waste streams refer to the various sources of waste such as:


  • MSW comes from residential and public places. Residential wastes from over 200,000 households amount to 65,000 tonnes per year while rubbish from public and city-owned spaces equal to 11,000 tonnes. 
  • By 2030, MSW is expected to increase by 34% or more than 100,000 tonnes of waste per year. 
  • Around 69% of residential wastes are recycled while only about 18% of public wastes end up in recycling centres.
  • MSW comprises 4% of the city’s total waste to landfill.


  • Sydney’s C&I waste accounts for more than 20% of NSW’s waste.
  • Businesses in Sydney produce more than 90% of the total waste of the city. This is equal to 690,000 tonnes of C&I waste every year. By 2030, waste from this sector is anticipated to augment by 16% or more than 800,000 tonnes of rubbish each year.
  • Employees and visitors in the city are estimated to contribute around 2 kg of waste per day.
  • While 52% of C&I waste go to recycling and organic recovery centres, a whole lot of waste still ends up in landfills (43%).


  • Sydney generates more than 1.2 million tonnes of C&D waste every year. House or building renovations account for 400,000 tonnes of this volume. This quantity of waste is expected to grow by 16% and hit 1.5 million tonnes in the year 2030.
  • Around 4 kg of C&D waste is generated per person per day.
  • Approximately 69% of C&D debris is recycled. However, this waste still comprises 53% of the total waste to landfill.

Material Category

Rubbish comes in various shape, size, and material. Wastes coming from the city of Sydney offer these varieties.

  • The major waste materials disposed of in landfills are food, paper and plastic. These materials amount to over 75% of the wastes in landfills. 
  • Around 4 tonnes of food waste is generated per household in Sydney which covers about 35% of the average residential bin. As a result, more than 5 million tonnes of food ends up in landfills.
  • Other waste material categories found in general waste bins include paper and cardboard (8%), glass items (6%), textiles (6%), and recyclable plastic (2%). Green wastes account for 3% of residential wastes while electronic rubbish and white goods cover 2% of MSW. 


With its continuously burgeoning population, Sydney is confronting a growing problem of rubbish generation. Paul’s Rubbish Removal provides all sorts of waste removal services in Sydney. We are a team of dedicated rubbish removalists who can assure you that your waste will be removed sustainably and appropriately.

Contact us at 0407 125 125 or send us an enquiry at info@paulsrubbish.com.au

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann

Sarah Ann is a Digital Content Writer for Paul's Rubbish Removal. Sarah is a huge advocate for recycling, environmental sustainability, health and well-being and has a genuine love for all sea animals. Keep up with Sarah by following Paul's Rubbish Removal blog!

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