Australian Circularity Benchmarks

The Australian Circular Economy presents an economic opportunity that is critical to our future.


Unlocking this opportunity begins with knowing how we are performing in addressing waste and pollution, keeping materials in use to maximise their productivity, and regenerating natural systems.

The Australian Circular Benchmarks Dashboard seeks to provide a one-stop hub for open and transparent benchmarks for policymakers, businesses and communities to track Australia’s progress towards a circular economy.1

1The Dashboard will continue to be updated as further benchmarks are evaluated and added.

How we use materials

Australia has the third highest material consumption rate in the world.

Australia has the third highest material consumption rate in the world (38 tonnes/capita), well above the global average (12 tonnes/capita).

For every kilogram of materials consumed, Australia generates economic output of US$1.28.

This is below the world average (US$1.55 per kg materials consumed). We can do more to extract value from the materials we consume, before we dispose of them. 

How we Generate and Use Energy

Australia consumes more electricity per capita, and generates more CO2 emissions per capita, than the global average.

Australians emit 15t CO2e per capita (2018), equivalent to average emissions from 3.3 cars over one year. Australia’s electricity consumption (9.9 MWh per capita) is 82.5% higher than the world average (5.4 MWh per capita).

Global Renewable Energy Share

Australia’s installed renewable electricity capacity has grown 84.5% in the last four years.

43.5% of Australia’s installed electricity capacity comes from renewable sources compared to a global average of 35.1%. 


How Much Municipal Waste We Generate

Australians are generating 20% less municipal waste per capita during 2018-2019 than in 2006-2007.

However, Australians still generate 500kg municipal waste per capita, less than the average person living in the OECD area, who would have generated 539kg on average in 2018.

How We Are Recovering Waste

Australia recycles a higher percentage of its municipal waste than the OECD benchmark.

41% of Australia’s municipal waste is recycled compared to the 25% in the OECD area. South Korea recycles the most at 64%.

9.2% of Australia’s municipal waste is used for energy recovery.

Many European countries have high rates of energy recovery from municipal waste. However, it is Japan that has the highest rate with 74% of their municipal waste being recovered for energy. 

The State Of Australia’s Emissions

Tasmania is carbon positive, with net CO2e emissions at -3.15 tonnes per capita.

This is largely due to its land use and forestry management. NT has the highest average emissions of CO2e at 84 tonnes per capita and NSW is in the middle of the pack at 17 tCO2e per capita.

How We Source Our Electricity

Tasmania is practically self-sufficient on renewable energy, with 98% of its electricity generated from renewable sources, followed by South Australia at 58%

The ACT has also achieved its 100% renewable electricity target, by sourcing this energy via a combination of funding wind farms around Australia to feed energy into the national grid to match the amount of electricity Canberra consumes, and solar power generators in Canberra itself.

How Much Waste We Generate

NSW generates enough core waste to fill 7,760 olympic sized swimming pools each year.

Victoria, the ACT and South Australia all generate over 2.5 tonnes of core waste per capita. Queensland and NSW sit in the middle of the pack with 2.39 tonnes of core waste generated per capita. The Northern Territory and Tasmania generate the least waste per capita at around 1.8 tonnes.

How Much We Recycle

Australia’s recycling of core waste has increased by 52% over the last 13 years.

Among the states and territories, South Australia leads the way with a recycling rate of 80%, followed by the ACT (75%), and NSW and Victoria (both 65%). Methane from landfills represents 97% of emissions from Australia’s waste management industry.

Jobs & Businesses In Waste Management & Recycling

Australia’s waste management and recycling sector is a $16 billion industry, with 31% of jobs and 32% of businesses located in NSW.

NSW has the highest number of waste management jobs (13,140) and businesses (1,564) in Australia. NSW’s well established waste industry is closely followed by Victoria in both jobs and businesses, with industry sizes aligning with the trend in population size across all states and territories.

NSW Jobs & Businesses In Waste Management & Recycling

There are 36,000 + jobs in Australia’s waste industry.

In NSW, these are concentrated in Sydney’s Outer West and Blue Mountains region with 1.3 jobs per 1,000 people.

Download Data

We believe open data is important for evidence-based decision making, research and innovation. All of the underlying data on our Dashboard can be downloaded here. Additional data will be added as new benchmarks are evaluated and added over time.

Download Data

See how your LGA compares

If you are a NSW local council interested in a further breakdown of circular metrics for your council area, order a My Community Community report now. See how your LGA compares to similar councils in areas such as waste generation, recycling and waste costs.

Find out more