Giraffes at Taronga Park Zoo Sydney

A cleaner environment for a better quality of life

One of the main environmental health hazards to a city's population is exposure to air pollution from transport and industry. According to the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, Australia recorded concentrations of particle matter that were lower than almost all developed countries. The Environmental Performance Index also ranked Australia third in the world, the highest of all G20 countries, for its overall performance on the protection of human health from environmental harm and the protection of ecosystems. Australia ranked first in the world for indicators measuring health impacts, water and sanitation, and forests, and also performed well on air quality and water resources measures.

Like Australia, air quality in New South Wales is good by international standards and has been steadily improving over time. Concentrations of air pollutants in Sydney are considered to be low by world standards and meet official guidelines. The New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage maintains one of the largest air quality monitoring networks in Australia. 

Waste Less, Recycle More program

Sydney city and trees

The New South Wales Government has also introduced a number of new initiatives to encourage and support individuals, communities, business operators and local governments in efforts to improve the State's air quality and general environment. Examples of these initiatives include the Waste Less, Recycle More program, a five-year $465.7 million waste and resource recovery initiative which will focus on new waste and recycling programs for local government, industry and communities. 

As the largest waste and resource recovery funding package in Australia, Waste Less, Recycle More will help achieve the state's recycling targets, stimulate investment in infrastructure and combat littering and illegal dumping.

Environment, 2014
Country Particulate matter1,2
micrograms per cubic metre
Pollution Problems3
New Zealand 2.1  6.9 
Australia3.2 7.6
Singapore 5.2 6.6
Philippines 6.7  4.1
United States 7.5  6.8
United Kingdom  8.7  7.5
Indonesia 9.2 4.7
Malaysia 10.7 6.5
France 10.7  7.0
Japan  11.7  7.2
Germany13.3 8.3
Taiwan 14.6  5.6
Thailand  14.6  5.1
Hong Kong SAR 15.4 3.8
Korea 19.9  4.7
India 32.0 4.0
China  48.0 2.3


1. 2014 Environmental Performance Index. Most recent year available is 2012. Raw data are shown.

2. Population-weighted exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in micrograms per cubic metre. Suspended particulates contribute to acute lower respiratory infections and other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Finer particulates (such as PM2.5) lodge deeper in lung tissue, causing greater damage than coarser particulates. Annual average concentrations of greater than 10 micrograms per cubic metre are known to be injurious to human health.

3. IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2014. Survey: 0 = seriously affect your economy, 10 = do not seriously affect your economy.

Sources: 2014 Environmental Performance Index, Yale Centre for Environmental Law and Policy, http://epi.yale.edu; The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2014,Switzerland, www.imd.ch/wcy