Manufacturing takes place in NSW on sites that are dispersed throughout the state.
They may be isolated, remote from one another and hence from likely users of their
waste. This scenario is not conducive to industrial symbiosis which is conventionally
understood to be a network of organisations in close geographic proximity that share
resources, cascade energy and use each other’s waste. Regulations governing the
disposal of waste are stringent and associated costs are significant, largely due to
the highest landfill levies anywhere in Australia. The state government’s strategy is
to increase levies to a level that ‘induces’ generators of waste to find alternatives to
landfill. Responding to these challenges will necessitate a fundamental change in the
approach to dealing with waste. The way in which manufactures might accomplish the
change sustainably and systematically is the underlying issue addressed in this thesis.
The concept of physical bilateral symbiosis, specifically an arrangement between a
generator of waste and its user, has been developed to suit geographic conditions in
NSW. However, an attempt to establish trials of its autogenous form was unsuccessful.
Nevertheless, results of the attempt indicated that broader issues should be investigated:
managers’ perceptions of waste disposal, their willingness and their capacity to meet
the challenges imposed by government; collectively, what I have called a generator’s
internal infrastructure. These issues, in turn, led to an investigation of how third parties,
that is, the external infrastructure, might be able to facilitate bilateral symbiosis.
The principal findings are that while some generators may develop uses for their waste
others will simply not be able to do so. There is, in practice, no external infrastructure
capable of facilitating systematic, bilateral symbiosis on behalf of a generator.
Furthermore, government action, particularly in relation to policy on funding, is neither
appropriate nor adequate for sustainable development in relation to waste. The overall
conclusion is that much could be done by the private sector to increase the use of waste,
if government policy were to support the effort. However, that support is expected to
be very difficult to achieve, even in the form of appropriate legislation in NSW, let alone
coordinated among the various jurisdictions in Australia. In regard to what actually
happens in practice, the current scenario in general is unlikely to change significantly
within the foreseeable future.