Waste Management

Waste Management

Did you know? 

Taronga Conservation Society Australia diverts 84% of its waste from landfill, and we are on track for our target rate of 90% by 2020!

We achieve this by maintaining 20 separate waste streams to divert waste from landfill and recycle materials at the source which ensures the value of materials are retained.

What we recycle

Food waste

Food going to landfill is wasteful, since it requires a significant amount of water, energy, land and fertilizer to grow, process and transport, and once in landfill it also creates methane gas, which contributes to climate change.This is why Taronga Conservation Society Australia has a separate stream for food waste from our on-site operations.

On average, we divert five tonnes of food waste from landfill by sending it to an anaerobic digester to create electricity and produce fertile pellets which return precious nutrients back into soil.

What you can do

Individual Australians can minimize food waste through smart shopping and planning meals. If you do have some food scraps and leftovers, start composting and produce natural fertilizer. Join the Compost Revolution by getting a compost, worm farm or a Bokashi (a Japanese compost).

E-waste

All electronics at Taronga Conservation Society Australia are recycled through a designated e-waste stream.

We also empower Australians to recycle their electronic devices through our They’re Calling On You program to divert e-waste from landfill and help protect Gorilla habitat in Africa. Through this campaign phones, chargers, digital cameras and tablets are re-used and recycled, and all funds raised go to our partners at the Jane Goodall Institute Australia for primate conservation. More than 50,000 mobile phones alone have been re-used and recycled through the program, which is the equivalent of 1,200 fewer tonnes of coltan metal ore mined out of the ground!

What you can do

Are you ready to answer the call of Grauer’s Gorillas? Work together with your family and friends to gather 10 mobile phones you no longer use and book your free pick up service at the Phone Cycle website.

Food packaging

Taronga Conservation Society Australia encourages individual Australians to avoid unnecessary disposable packaging in favour of reusable options, but we recognise that this is not always possible.

At our food outlets, Taronga’s zoos have significantly minimised the use of packaging by simply removing it where possible and introducing reusable food baskets for hot food, saving 350,000 plastic containers a year! Where possible, we are also provide dine-in cutlery and plates.

As a last option for takeaway, all of our packaging is made out of 100% cornstarch based compostable material. We maintain a separate waste stream that allows all compostable packaging to actually be turned into compost, including our unique 100% compostable food packaging, straws, cutlery, coffee cups and lids sold in our food outlets and cafes.

What you can do

When dining out, choose somewhere you can dine-in and use reusable cutlery and plates. Alternatively, bring your reusable takeaway box with you when you are ordering food.

Animal waste

Over 4,000 animals call Taronga home, and on average these animals produce roughly 50 tonnes of animal waste every month across both our zoos. That's the equivalent weight of 14 female African Elephants!

At Taronga Zoo Sydney, this waste is collected and transported to an offsite composting facility, along with the 100% compostible food packaging waste collected in a dedicated stream across the Zoo.

In Dubbo, we process this material on site and reuse the finished compost in grounds.

Container recycling with Return and Earn

Return and Earn

Taronga is a supporter of the New South Wales’ Return and Earn container deposit program. Introduced in December 2017, this is the state’s largest litter mitigation program. Taronga Zoo Sydney was one of the first sites for installation of the reverse vending Tomra kiosk for local communities to use, return their beverage containers and redeem their deposit. We have also installed four smaller donation reverse vending machines across Taronga Zoo Sydney, where guests can choose to donate their deposit to Taronga Conservation Society Australia.

What you can do

Individual Australians can make a difference by choosing to use a refillable bottle instead of single-use bottles and cans. If you do have to purchase drinks in single-use bottles, please recycle or redeem your deposit at your nearest Return and Earn container collection point.

Paper and cardboard

Taronga has implemented intelligent printing software to help reduce our overall paper consumption, and collects office paper, cardboard and zoo maps for processing at a dedicated paper facility. The paper we do consume comes from sustainable sources and is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. 

Did you know? Collecting paper products in a dedicated stream and separate from other recyclables ensures the materials can be recycled and turned into a higher quality product than if they were collected with general recycling.

What you can do

Monitor your paper consumption and only use paper based products when absolutely necessarily. Otherwise try to stick to emails and digital note taking. If you need to use paper, reuse scrap paper or ensure that the paper you buy comes from recycled sources or is sustainably harvested

Green purchasing

Recycling is only part of the solution to ensure our actions and choices are truly sustainable. Purchasing goods with recycled content helps to ensure we create a demand for recycled products and promotes an industry that supports 'green goods'. This ultimately reduces the demand for raw materials or those made from virgin materials.

Taronga Conservation Society Australia has a procurement policy that mandates the purchase of materials with recycled content.

What you can do

We encourage Australians to make the commitment to buy products with 100% recycled content where possible and buy products with ecolabels including FSC (The Forest Stewardship Council), MSC (The Marine Stewardship Council), Organics, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and RSPO (The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil).

Reducing litter

Litter prevention

Taronga is striving towards a waste reduction goal of 90% diversion from landfill. The current diversion rate is 84% - this means that the majority of waste we produce at both our Zoos is either reused, recycled, recovered, composted or converted into PEF - an alternative fuel source.

Taronga prioritises separation at the source, maintaining 20 separate waste streams to ensure the recyclable materials retain their quality without being downgraded by contamination. 

Our general waste stream also goes through an additional filtering process. Unlike standard general waste you may have at home, school or work, Taronga's general waste is sent to an alternative waste treatment facility, where recyclable materials including soft plastics, organic food waste and contaminated paper are removed, and turned into PEF fuel. The remaining materials are then transferred to landfill. 

What you can do

Be conscious of what you consume and favour options that are durable, not single use and do not have excessive packaging that cannot be recycled.

For the waste you cannot avoid, be diligent about recycling– recycling systems are confusing and vary from location to location, make an effort to find out proper recycling practices in your given context, be it at work, school and home.

Plastic bottles

Taronga Conservation Society Australia encourages use of reusable bottles by providing free water refill stations at Taronga Zoo Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo. The stations are marked on our zoo maps and mobile phone applications. We also sell Taronga reusable bottles and Keep Cups on site.

We recognise that a reusable bottle may not always be possible, and all our beverage containers are recycled through our dedicated container stream.

Zoo guests can reclaim deposits for their beverage bottles and packaging at our Return and Earn kiosk located opposite our main entrance in Sydney. In the first six months since the kiosk was installed, we have diverted 600,000 containers! Guests also have the option to donate their container deposits to Taronga Conservation Society Australia through our four on-site Return and Earn donation machines.

What you can do

Individual Australians can make a difference by choosing to use a refillable bottle instead of single-use bottles and cans. If you do have to purchase drinks in single-use bottles, please recycle or redeem your deposit at your nearest Return and Earn container collection point.

Disposable takeaway packaging

Taronga Conservation Society Australia encourages individual Australians to avoid unnecessary disposable packaging in favour of reusable options, but we recognise that this is not always possible.

At our food outlets, Taronga’s zoos have significantly minimised the use of packaging by simply removing it where possible and introducing reusable food baskets for hot food, saving 350,000 plastic containers a year! Where possible, we are also provide dine-in cutlery and plates.

As a last option for takeaway, all of our packaging is made out of 100% cornstarch based compostable material. We maintain a separate waste stream that allows all compostable packaging to actually be turned into compost, including our unique 100% compostable food packaging, straws, cutlery, coffee cups and lids sold in our food outlets and cafes.

What you can do:
When dining out, choose somewhere you can dine-in and use reusable cutlery and plates. Alternatively, bring your reusable takeaway box with you when you are ordering food.

Disposable straws

Taronga Conservation Society Australia encourages Zoo guests to go straw-free or use more sustainable straw options, such as paper or stainless steel.

However, we understand that straws can provide assistance to people who need them due to specific medical requirements or disability, and as such should always be available on request. Straws at Taronga Zoo Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo are made from 100% biodegradable paper, which we compost with other packaging items.

What you can do

We encourage Australians to say ‘no straw thanks’ when ordering drinks. Alternatively, if you cannot have your drink without a straw, ask for a reusable one made from metal, or a paper straw that can be recycled or composted.

Coffee cups

Conventional coffee cups cannot be recycled because they are lined with plastic. In developed countries, single-use coffee cups is a huge challenge; in Australia alone billions of cups are produced each year, only to end up in landfill after a single use.

Taronga Conservation Society Australia encourages the use of reusable cups, , although we understand that this may not always be possible. We maintain a separate waste stream so that all compostable packaging can be turned into compost, including our 100% compostable coffee cups and lids sold in our cafes.

However, this is not the case for the majority of single-use takeaway cups that are available in cafes and other venues, which must be disposed through the general waste stream where they end up in landfill due to the plastic lining.

What you can do

When enjoying your coffee, tea or hot chocolate at the café, ask for a ceramic cup. Alternatively, if you want to have it on the go, remember to always keep your reusable cup with you.

Balloons

Taronga Conservation Society Australia banned balloons from both Taronga Zoo Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo and at all Zoo events in 2009. We have maintained a commitment to this policy to reduce the injured wildlife that come into Taronga’s Wildlife Hospital for treatment.

What you can do

Before using balloons at your next event or celebration, consider the impact they have on native wildlife. Stray balloons can cause devastating injuries to wildlife when swallowed. Please help protect wildlife by not using balloons and becoming a champion for wildlife by telling your family and friends how they can help too.

Disposable bags

Disposable bags can cause havoc to wildlife when when they enter the environment. When it eventually starts to breaks down into smaller particles and pieces they can easily be swallowed by wildlife, work its way up to the food chain, and potentially even end up on your plate!

Taronga Conservation Society Australia banned disposable bags at all of our retail outlets in 2009, instead offering recyclable paper and other reusable alternatives.

What you can do

When shopping, remember to take your own reusable bags from home. Bags made from sustainable fibres such as canvas may be repaired or repurposed if they become torn or damaged.

Sauce sachets

Individual sauce sachets produce a significant amount of waste that cannot be recycled and quickly adds up when used in mass.

As part of our sustainability commitment, Taronga Conservation Society Australia removed individual sauce sachets from our Zoos in 2017 in favour of refillable pump stations, saving hundreds thousands of single-use items from landfill each year.

What you can do

Communities can make a difference by encouraging local cafes and restaurants to make a better change. If you notice somewhere that is using individual sauce sachets, ask if they can change to refillable pumps instead.