2 – Julie B.

Hi, my name is Julie. I am a freshman planning to double major in Animal Science and Environmental Economics and Sustainability! I have lived in the inner city of Chicago my entire life, but I spent lots of time in Michigan growing up. I visit Sleeping Bear Dunes every summer and stay at D.H. Day campground. My family owns a cottage in the U.P. near Crystal Falls. I knew I wanted to go to a Big 10 school, but I ended up at MSU because I wanted to be apart of a progressive environment where my career goals and interests are supported. Plus, our school colors and mascot can’t be topped.

I am excited to experience a more sustainable way of life, and challenge my own consumer habits. I am ready for Australia to take my breath away and I hope that I return to the U.S. feeling more optimistic about our future. I care about the welfare of animals and the conservation of wildlife more than anything in the world! I am very excited to spend time in an environment where those values are appreciated. My life dream is to work at the Australia Zoo with the Irwin family! Fingers crossed that we somehow run into them. Poisonous snakes are really my only worry regarding this trip. I am so excited to begin this adventure with all of you!

      While in Australia, I want to study the “National Waste Policy” established in 2017 by Australia’s Department of Environment and Energy. This policy mediates community effort by calling on the government, businesses, and individuals to work together to reduce waste and use both natural and recycled resources efficiently. The “National Waste Policy” was put into place in 2018 and hopes to achieve “zero waste” regions by 2030.  

     There are five pillars that this policy is centered around:

1) Avoid waste.

2) Improve resource recovery.

3) Increase use of recycled material and build demand for recycled products.

4) Better manage material flows to benefit human health, the environment, and the economy.

5) Improve information to support innovation and enable informed consumer decisions.  

        I plan to specifically look into how recycling and waste management function in urbanized communities. From my research, I hope to make a connection between Australia’s waste management and urban areas in the United States. I live in the city of Chicago, so I am hoping I can find insight on how Australia’s sustainable practices can be accommodated in the everyday life of city residents. Large cities in the United States are guilty of consuming an unreasonable amount of food and resources, and therefore produce an unsustainable amount of waste in return. It is important to me that urban communities transition toward better waste management and resource recovery.


Australian Government: Department of Environment and Energy (2018). 2018 National Waste Policy: Less waste, more resources. Retrieved from https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/publications/national-waste-policy-2018 

Australian Government: Department of Environment and Energy (2013). Australia’s waste and resource recovery infrastructure. Retrieved from https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/national-waste-reports/national-waste-report-2013/infrastructure 

City of Sydney (2019). Waste Management. Retrieved from https://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/vision/sustainable-sydney-2030/sustainability/waste-management 

Cool Australia (n.d.). Waste. Retrieved from https://www.coolaustralia.org/waste/  

A thrift store in downtown Melbourne promoting sustainable shopping!

A Steve Irwin mural located in Adelaide
The city of Adelaide is on track to become the first carbon-neutral city in the world!

A sufficient waste management system should be a sustainable system that prioritizes recycling, composting, and resource recovery. Sustainable waste management requires little solid waste to be produced. Of this solid waste, efforts should be made to separate recyclables and reusable materials from the waste that is appropriate for a landfill. However, a complex waste management system will never reach its potential without community engagement.

Now that my research is completed, I can conclude that sustainable waste management systems in cities are the most successful when there is communication between the residents of the city and the government- whether it be federal or local. For progress to occur, mindsets need to change. Every country in the world could establish its own plan toward a sustainable lifestyle, but if people are not concerned about the state of the environment, a government-facilitated “plan” will not make any significant progress. The cities that are moving toward sustainable living are those that communicate and educate. Citizen engagement is sparked by education, increased with incentives, and maintained with feedback.

Education is a key aspect in spreading awareness about the effects that non-sustainable waste management has on the environment, and how to correct the system. Education regarding waste management needs to be distributed in ways that will adhere to city residents. Reliable means of distribution would be through social media platforms and television. In cities, postings of advertisements within the bustling atmosphere would be particularly impactful, such as ads on billboards, buses, and train lines.

     Financial incentives are a powerful tool in motivating behavior changes. State and local governments can use financial incentives to increase participation in sustainable waste management. These incentives can be anything from receiving 10 cents for each recycled aluminum can, to being compensated for installing solar panels on an apartment building. Financial incentives would cause people to be more inclined to make an effort to live a sustainable lifestyle.

Lastly, citizen feedback provides constructive criticism that allows governments to assess the performance and satisfaction of a waste management strategy. Asking citizens for feedback on waste management systems strengthens the trust between individuals and their government. When people feel listened to by their government, they participate more in advocating for improvements. As long as feedback from the community is valued, the relationship between residents of a city and their government will benefit the outcomes.

Through observing first-hand in Australia and completing secondary research from U.S. sources, I learned that management of municipal solid waste is achievable on a large scale, but it requires advocacy, understanding, and communication. The residents of cities in Australia tend to value the environment than those in cities across the United States. In order for the United States’ recycling and resource recovery rates to progress, citizens need to develop an appreciation for the environment. The most affective way to change mindsets regarding waste production and the only way urban areas will make significant improvement, is through education and communication.

New friends!


A., & G. (n.d.). CARBON NEUTRAL ADELAIDE Action Plan 2016–2021. Retrieved August 29, 2019, from https://d31atr86jnqrq2.cloudfront.net/docs/action-plan-carbon-neutralpdf.pdf?mtime=20190517094029

EPA Sustainable Materials Management Program Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2017 – 2022. (2017, February 21). Retrieved July 14, 2019, from https://www.epa.gov/smm/epa-sustainable-materials-management-program-strategic-plan-fiscal-years-2017-2022 

Leaving nothing to waste: Managing resources in the City of Sydney area. (n.d.). Retrieved August 1, 2019, from https://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/308846/Leave-nothing-to-waste-strategy-and-action-plan-20172030.pdf 

National Waste Policy. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2019, from https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/national-waste-policy

Sustainable Sydney 2030. (n.d.). Retrieved July 14, 2019, from https://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/vision/sustainable-sydney-2030


Markham, D. (2018, October 11). New online game allows kids to design their own energy-efficient city. Retrieved August 2, 2019, from https://www.treehugger.com/gadgets/new-online-game-allows-kids-create-own-energy-efficient-city.html

This reference requires a PDF to be downloaded from this page: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/30317 —–> Yao, L., & Woerden, F. V. (2018). Waste Administration and Operations. What a Waste 2.0: A Global Snapshot of Solid Waste Management to 2050,87-100. doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-1329-0_ch4 





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