Media Release

Researchers need your help to tackle growing landfill

Global Challenges Program looking at how households in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven dispose of unwanted items.

What do you do with an unwanted item in your home? Do you sell it? Donate it to charity? Dump it at the local tip? Or pop it on your kerbside and hope that your trash will become a treasure for one of your neighbours?

A multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Wollongong are working with local councils to examine the perennial issue of landfill.

With the support of UOW’s Global Challenges Program, which aims to address real-world problems, Dr Paul Chad, a marketer, Dr Elyse Stanes, a cultural geographer, Dr James Ng, a statistician, and Dr Sarah Wright, a legal scholar, have collaborated with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation to gain a better understanding of how households dispose of unwanted items.

In NSW, in 2018-19 alone, 203,000 tonnes of household bulky and mixed waste items were collected by councils from kerbsides. Nearly 90 per cent of that ended up in landfill, according to the NSW Local Government WARR Data Report.

Dr Chad said the project is looking at how residents of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven dispose of their unwanted household objects, such as lounges, toys, mattresses and much more.

“This is a crucial issue as many items end up in landfill, despite the potential to be reused, repurposed, or recycled in a better way,” Dr Chad said.

“Kerbside collections are one mode through which households dispose of unwanted items. Some items are in good conditions, other items are in very poor condition!

“By gaining a better understanding of how households dispose of unwanted items we can assess how to improve council collection process to minimise landfill, and reuse and recover unwanted items.”

The Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation coordinates the regional waste strategy of five local councils: Wollongong, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven, Kiama, and Wingecarribee.

The team are encouraging residents in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven to fill out a survey on ‘Rethinking Clutter, Rethinking Rubbish’.

The survey is available here and will provide researchers with an insight into how to tackle the issue of unwanted items and growing landfill in the region.


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