Territory Stories

Waste management strategy for the Northern Territory 2015-2022



Waste management strategy for the Northern Territory 2015-2022

Other title

Northern Territory waste management strategy for 2015-2022


Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




This Strategy provides a basis for understanding and improving the management of waste across the Northern Territory (the Territory) to reduce the generation of waste, increase rates of resource recovery and to minimise environmental impacts caused by waste. It provides an overarching summary of the waste management issues currently being faced in the Territory.


Bibliography pages 17-18

Table of contents

Purpose -- Management issues -- Objectives -- Management actions -- Background -- Conclusions on waste management for the Territory -- Further reading -- Summary of NT EPA management actions -- Appendix A: Key waste and resource recovery principles -- Appendix B: Policy and legislation.




Hazardous wastes -- Northern Territory -- Management; Refuse and refuse disposal -- Northern Territory -- Management; Recycling (Waste, etc) -- Government Policy -- Northern Territory

Publisher name

Northern Territory Government

Place of publication



24 pages : colour illustrations ; 30 cm.

File type



Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

Copyright owner

Northern Territory Government



Parent handle


Citation address


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Page content

Waste Management Strategy for the Northern Territory 20152022 6 2. MANAGEMENT ISSUES Waste is a significant environmental issue. Disposal of waste consumes land, produces pollution to the atmosphere, soil and groundwater, and represents a loss of potential resources including embodied energy and materials. It is difficult to measure the extent of the impact of waste in the Territory when valuable information on waste types, trends and end-points are limited, held by multiple entities (eg NT EPA, NT Government, and local government) and rarely consolidated. Impacts on the environment and human health from poor waste management include the adverse effects of odour, noise and dust associated with waste management facilities. More serious health concerns can escalate through contamination of land, groundwater and adjoining surface waters, or explosion hazards from landfill gas. Poor environmental outcomes will occur in the absence of appropriate management practices and regulatory monitoring of waste streams (Appendix A). Poor outcomes can include littering and illegal waste dumping through to large scale waste facilities operating without appropriate environmental controls and monitoring programs. The various environmental provisions for regulating waste in the Territory are insufficient to overcome barriers to achieving high quality waste management practices. There are particular constraints to improving waste management across the Territory, and the challenges vary in nature and scale across regions. The more highly populated towns and cities generate greater volumes of domestic and construction waste resulting in a heavier load on existing waste facilities. Significant mining, oil, gas and other commercial industrial projects are well underway, generating an expanding number of waste streams, such as mercury as a contaminant of LNG processing. Regional towns with smaller populations face economic constraints to implementing standard recycling and resource recovery practices. The cost of establishing recycling businesses, combined with difficulties in establishing demand for recycled materials, leaves little incentive to attract investment in resource recovery outside of major city centres. This results in some wastes that could otherwise be recycled, ending up in landfill. On top of this, listed wastes 1 such as asbestos, clinical waste and liquid wastes can cause significant problems when buried in remote landfills without adequate environmental controls. Remote communities of the Territory are poorly serviced and some are isolated from the rest of the Territory for months during the wet season (December to May). Waste management can be a difficult task in remote communities, where education is required to stimulate ownership of waste, and to elevate its status as an essential service to protect community health. There is generally very limited waste infrastructure or access to markets for recyclables, and the recruitment and ongoing retention of staff is a challenge. The vast distances and poor road conditions between towns restricts opportunity to separate and transport recyclable and hazardous wastes to appropriate facilities. Landfills are generally designed below minimum standards for environmental protection yet may be the only disposal option provided. Very few, if any, regional councils can afford the cost of relocating or redesigning existing landfills to a level that can achieve assured environmental protection or costs of providing waste management services. The selection of suitable land to develop for landfill can be impeded by the need for landowner consent, and the complexities with identifying appropriate custodians of the land. Across the Territory the total number of accessible, practical and specialised waste processing or recycling facilities is limited in comparison to other Australian states. As a result many wastes need to be transported interstate for recycling, treatment or disposal, and operators face high transportation costs combined with lost economic opportunity to process wastes locally. 1 Listed wastes are defined under Schedule 2 of the Waste Management and Pollution Control (Administration) Regulations. Batteries contain toxic heavy materials Hazardous or recyclable wastes often end up as landfill

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