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How much of Victoria’s waste is disposed of in landfills

The Victorian waste and resource recovery system managed an estimated 12,673,000 tonnes of materials in 2015–2016. Of this, 67 per cent was recovered and 33 per cent sent to landfill. These figures do not include the volumes of prescribed industrial wastes managed, recovered or landfilled.

Source: Statewide Waste and Resources Recovery Infrastructure Plan, Victoria 2017–2046.

Environmental concerns associated with landfills

Landfill gas, leachate and loose waste are the three main challenges for landfills today.

  • Landfill gas is produced in landfills as waste decomposes, and predominantly consists of methane and carbon dioxide, as well as containing a range of trace gases. If not managed correctly, landfill gas can migrate from the landfill, causing odours, contributing to climate change, and potentially posing explosion and/or asphyxiation risks if concentrations of methane or carbon dioxide build up in enclosed spaces.
  • Leachate is a liquid that forms when waste decomposes. If leachate is not adequately contained and removed from the landfill, it can leak into the groundwater, causing contamination. There can also be odour issues from leachate if not managed properly.
  • Loose waste attracts disease-carrying vermin of all types, and it can fly away in the breeze. This is managed by landfill operators by placing a cover over the waste daily, by installing litter fences around the active tipping area and by collecting any rubbish that flies away from the tipping area.

Biodegradable and photodegradable materials

A commonly asked question is, "Are biodegradable and photodegradable materials better for the environment?"

Green-advertising claims such as ‘biodegradable’ and ‘photodegradable’ aren’t always accurate. Plastics labelled ‘biodegradable’ due to the addition of starch simply disintegrate into tiny non-degradable pieces after the starch has been degraded. Photodegradable plastics need sunlight to degrade so cannot be broken down in landfills.

Integrated solid waste management

Integrated solid waste management is an approach that includes a combination of waste prevention, waste reduction and disposal techniques to manage the problem of municipal solid waste. When we reduce, reuse, recycle and compost waste materials, less waste ends up in landfills or incinerators.

How to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills

Ways to reduce the amount of waste you produce include:

  • follow your community's recycling program
  • compost organic wastes so they can be used as nutrients for other plants
  • use leaves and grass clippings as mulch
  • buy recycled paper products and products with less packaging
  • buy durable products rather than disposable ones
  • reuse jars and containers.

Read next

About landfills

Landfills and EPA's role

Victorian Landfill Register

Hazardous waste (PIW) in landfills

Closed landfills

Landfill guidance for operators and councils


This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 14 December 2018.

Reviewed 24 August 2020