The ABC TV series War on Waste has won the most prestigious sustainability honour in Australia, the 2017 Gold Banksia Sustainability award.

The program has now reached 2.6 million people, a few hundred thousand short of a footy grand finals audience.

War on Waste created a groundswell of interest that soon turned to a tidal wave of action,” Banksia judges said Tuesday.

“It designed an innovative, winning formula that combined a credible yet relatable host that presented the facts in a way that made the issues feel real, relatable, and local to the viewers.”

In the 1960s, Australia used to be considered one of the best country’s when it came to dealing with waste, but in recent years consumer demand, supermarket policies and failed recycling campaigns have led to a significant growth in waste produced.

With 52 megatonnes generated each year, Australia is now ranked fifth highest on waste production in the world.

Craig Reucassel in War on Waste explained what has changed in Australia’s consumer culture to increase food, fashion, packaging and electronic waste, and what will happen if we do nothing about it.

The series promoted the #WaronWasteAU hashtag, which became the ABC’s most successful social media campaign to date.

As well, the Responsible Cafes movement, a website where cafes can register online and show customers they provide discounts for bringing their own reusable cup, has grown in its number of registered cafes from 450 to over 1800 since War on Waste promoted the #BYOCup campaign.

These numbers are still growing.

Other winners

The City of Melbourne received the Banksia Sustainable Cities Award for their Fitzroy Gardens Redevelopment, demonstrating the success of design-led teams in reshaping urban spaces and activities in response to social and environmental pressures.

The team installed a new underground stormwater tank, which provides almost 60 per cent of the gardens annual watering needs, following the devastation from the Millennium Drought from 1996 to mid-2010.

They also added more landscaped public open space and a new visitor centre and café to meet the growing populations’ demands.

Sundrop Farms, a leader in sustainable agriculture growing fresh fruits and vegetables using renewable inputs, received both the Minister’s Award for the Environment and Banksia SMART Award.

The company impressed the judges with its creativity in making Australia’s harsh, dry land viable for agricultural production.

The Banksia Sustainability Awards also awarded eight other winners over 12 categories.

CategoryWinning ProjectAbout
Banksia Food for Sustainable Thought AwardCullen Wines


Cullen Wines, certified biodynamic, carbon neutral, naturally powered and sustainable.


Banksia Sustainable & Resilient Communities AwardReaching 100% with Australia’s First Commercially Operating Community Mini Grid (Totally Renewable Yackandanda in collaboration with AusNet Services)


The Yackandandah community has a history of achieving ambitious community goals. With the support of the volunteer community group Totally Renewable Yackandandah (TRY) it has now set itself the task of generating 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2022.


Banksia Large Business Sustainability Leadership AwardAccorHotels Australia


Driving Positive Hospitality, creating sustainable connections, embracing and educating their 6 million guests each year.


Banksia Small to Medium Sustainability Leadership AwardAustral Fisheries (Austral Fisheries Pty Ltd)


Seafood that is sustainable, healthy, and carbon neutral.


Banksia Natural Capital AwardMurray-Darling Basin Balanced Water Fund (The Nature Conservancy Australia)


The Nature Conservancy established the Murray-Darling Basin Balanced Water Fund to provide water security for Australian farming families while protecting culturally significant wetlands that support threatened species.



Banksia Indigenous Leadership for Sustainability AwardArnhem Chair (Winya Indigenous Furniture Pty Ltd)


The most socio-environmental focused furniture in Australia.


Banksia Leadership in the Circular Economy AwardYarra Valley Water – Converting Waste to Energy (Yarra Valley Water)


Organic waste destined for landfill is being turned into energy at Yarra Valley Water.


Banksia Gold AwardWar On Waste (KEO Films Australia)


A provocative, controversial documentary series that uncovers how much waste we produce as a nation


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