Rubbish bins

Municipal Solid Waste

Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is defined by the Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions 1996 (Final 2001) (DEP, 2001) as waste, consisting of:

  • household domestic waste that is set aside for kerb-side collection or delivered by the householder directly to the waste facility; or
  • other types of domestic waste (e.g. domestic clean-up, furniture and residential garden waste); or
  • local council generated waste (e.g. waste from street sweeping, litter bins and parks); or
  • commercial waste generated from food preparation premises, supermarkets etc).

Waste Volumes And Contribution

800,000 tonnes of MSW, one third of all waste, was disposed of to landfill during 2000 in the Perth metropolitan area (Waste 2020, 2001).  This equates to a per capita waste contribution from Perth residents of 0.58 tonnes per year.  As improved separation and processing procedures are implemented and resource recovery systems divert more waste away from landfill, it is expected that the amount of waste going to landfill will decline.  However, there was no data available as of 2005 to suggest that this is in fact happening.


MSW management in Western Australia is undertaken through Local Councils or regional groups of councils called Regional Councils. Where Regional Councils have been established, Local Councils generally manage the collection of wastes and the Regional Council is responsible for waste treatment and disposal.  The responsibility for collection and transport of waste is shared between contractors and Councils.


The most common method of disposal of MSW in WA is sanitary landfill. MSW collected from the 30 local municipalities in Perth is currently disposed of in 8 putrescible landfills within the metropolitan area. Sanitary landfill is also the preferred method of disposal in rural areas with landfills located in almost every town outside the Perth metropolitan area.

Waste Composition

Perth's municipal waste stream is composed of almost 80% organic waste; coming from garden waste (~30%), food waste (26%), and paper and cardboard accounting for another 24% (DEP, 1997).  The remainder of the municipal waste stream is composed of potentially recyclable metals, plastic and glass as well as a number of inert wastes like rubble.

Waste Reduction

Due to the biodegradable and recyclable nature of the majority of the components of municipal waste (i.e. 79% and 12% respectively), there is significant potential for a range of technologies to be implemented for the recovery, reuse or recycling of these components.  Waste reduction on a domestic level does not necessarily have to be cost or labour intensive.  The overwhelming majority of Australians have access to at least basic kerbside recycling services and programs to improve these services can be found across the country.  A significant minority of Local Councils have adopted resource recovery technologies like composting to further reduce the quantity of material sent to landfill and the number is gradually increasing. 


  1. Draft Western Australia Waste Management Strategy, 1997, DEP.
  2. Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions 1996 (Final 2001) Western Australian Department of Environmental Protection
  3. Towards Zero Waste: Actions for the Construction and Demolition Sector, 2001, Waste 2020 Task Force.
  4. Western Australian Waste Reduction and Recycling Policy - Draft, 1997, DEP.
  5. Using Less Building Materials, 2005, Western Australia Department of Environment.