Untreated waste water pours out into a littered stream behind a wildlife preserve.

Untreated waste water and litter are significant environmental threats.

Waste management solutions

Effective waste management strategies contribute to the creation of a cleaner, less wasteful and more sustainable society.

  • 30 September 2008 | Updated 9 April 2014


Management of waste is a basic requirement of ecologically sustainable development.

In an effort to reduce adverse environmental effects, it involves waste material:

  • monitoring
  • collection
  • transport
  • processing
  • disposal.

Waste materials can originate from a variety of sources and include industrial, agricultural, commercial and domestic activities.

Many governments and organisations are adopting ‘zero waste’ policies.

These waste materials include:

  • demolition waste
  • energy and water treatment waste
  • stormwater
  • mining waste
  • radioactive waste
  • biosolids.

Effective waste management strategies assist in minimising or avoiding adverse impacts on the environment and human health, while allowing economic development and improvement in the quality of life.

The aims of waste management are to:

  • conserve resources of water, energy, raw materials and nutrients
  • control pollution of land, air, water and sediment
  • enhance business performance and maintain corporate social responsibility
  • improve occupational health and safety.

Many governments and organisations are adopting ‘zero waste’ policies.

This whole-of-system approach aims to reduce waste at the source through product design and producer responsibility.

It also includes waste reduction strategies further down the supply chain such as:

  • cleaner production
  • product dismantling
  • recycling
  • repair
  • reuse.

CSIRO solutions

CSIRO works with a variety of industries, both rural and urban, to deliver cost-effective and environmentally sustainable waste management solutions.

Our expertise assists better management of agricultural discharges, industrial emissions and urban wastes.

Our researchers are helping solve waste management challenges by:

  • commercialising innovative technologies and cleaner processes
  • developing new remediation techniques and industries
  • understanding waste stocks and flows.

Collaborative approach

CSIRO was a key contributor to the Centre for Sustainable Resource Processing (CSRP) and also leads two major national collaborative partnerships that are tackling waste management issues:

  • the Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship 
  • the Energy National Research Flagship.

CSIRO has extensive expertise in the chemistry, environmental fate and environmental impacts of contamination in water, soils and sediment. We also have highly sophisticated analytical capabilities for sampling and analysis.

CSIRO assists industry and government in research that tackles waste problems including wastewater treatment plants, wineries, water reuse and reuse of biowaste.

Learn more about CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country flagship.