SDG12: The 17 Sustainable Days of the Election

Through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), over the 17 days leading up to the Australia’s national election we will be highlighting the challenge for an inclusive and sustainable Australia, what can be done to address the challenge and what BCSD Australia, as part of a global WBCSD network is doing to create impact.


On Day 12, we are looking at SDG12: Responsible consumption and production

Waste not, want not. Some facts on waste in Australia:

  • Australia generates 67 million tonnes per annum, which equates to 2.7 tonnes per person annually.

  • Food waste is estimated to cost the Australian economy $20 billion each year, according to the Federal Government. This has significant impacts on the environment through the wasted use of resources such as land, water, energy and fuel to produce and distribute food.

  • When disposed of in landfill, food waste has other environmental impacts such as the production of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Australia also currently provides higher subsidies for fossil fuel use than other OECD countries, currently running at more than three times the OECD average.

  • While the per capita municipal levels of waste generation are encouraging, non-recycled municipal solid waste per capita is still lower than comaparator OECD countries.

  • Australians are also generating more commercial and industrial waste per capita than other OECD member countries. And while increasing levels of commercial and industrial waste are being recycled, policies are required to ensure that waste recycling is a feasible and desirable option for business and industry.


Priorities to achieve no particle of waste by 2050:

  • A hypothetical five per cent improvement in efficient use of materials (plastics, paper, glass, metals, textiles, masonry, food and other organic materials) across the Australian economy could benefit Australia’s GDP by as much as $24 billion.

  • In relation to food production and distribution, monitoring is required along the entire food chain - including vegetables, fruits and animal source foods - to ensure that valid food loss and waste estimates can be obtained.

  • Particular attention to the loss of food suitable for human consumption will help to identify areas where more efficient use can be made of the water, nutrient and energy resources used in their generation.

  • Move to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as they create artificial discounts across a range of products and tend to distract focus from the importance of investment in rail infrastructure and alternative sources of energy.

  • Minimising food wastage during production and transportation will improve the efficiency of resource usage and will also improve income for farmers, enabling them to more sustainably manage their land.

  • Accelerate execution of the National Waste Policy 2018.


What is BCSD Australia doing to create impact to address these challenges?

We are working with a number of partner organisations on projects that will help to address this challenge here in Australia and around the world, including:

Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to see our latest posts on #SDGsAndTheElection each day.

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