Transforming Recycling In Victoria

Environment Pillar

Victoria will have a container deposit scheme and households will get a new fourth bin, as part of a plan to reduce waste going to landfill by 80 per cent in ten years with a massive overhaul of the state’s waste and recycling system by the Victorian Government.

With widespread disruption to global recycling markets, Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio today (26 Feb 2020) announced the first in a suite of new policies under the Recycling Victoria package, designed to position Victoria as a leader in reusing, reducing and recycling waste.

The $129 million of initiatives announced today to reform kerbside recycling includes the roll out of four colour-coded bins to homes across the state to better sort waste, recyclables and organics:

  • glass recycling – purple lid
  • food and garden organics – green lid
  • plastic, metal and paper recycling – yellow lid
  • household waste – red lid

Collecting glass separately means that it can be more effectively recycled – with jars and bottles transformed multiple times into multiple different products, including new roads and footpaths.

Separate glass collection will also make recovery of other recyclables – like plastic, metal and paper – simpler, with the food and organic bin significantly reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.

The rollout of the new bins will start next year and happen gradually – informed by the needs of local communities and existing council contracts. There will also be special arrangements for remote regional households and people in apartments, to ensure everyone gets access to the new four-bin system.

To complement this new household recycling system, the government will also introduce a container deposit scheme – reducing litter and waste going into landfill, and creating new Victorian jobs.

The State Government will design and deliver the scheme in close consultation with councils and industry so it can begin by 2023.

They will also make waste collection an essential service – ensuring a basic standard of service for Victorians, wherever they live – and establish a new dedicated authority to better govern our recycling system and hold waste service providers to account.

An education and behaviour change campaign will support the rollout of the initiatives. It will target households, businesses, councils, community groups and charities – helping them transition to the new system.

Premier Daniel Andrews says, “This transformation will position Victoria as a national leader in recycling. Most importantly, it will deliver a system that Victorians can actually rely on. This represents a holistic approach to reducing, reusing and recycling our state’s waste. That’s good news for Victoria’s environment and good news for Victorian jobs.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio says, “We know Victorians want to be able to do more to recycle household waste – this new system will make it easier for all of us to do our bit.”

Ten year strategy

The revised household bin recycling plan is part of a 10-year strategy that will completely overhaul Victoria’s recycling sector, create 3,900 jobs and reduce waste going to landfill.

The more than $300 million package brings together a suite of landmark reforms, dedicated to shifting Victoria to a circular economy, including a statewide four-bin recycling system, a container deposit scheme and nearly $100 million to support businesses, drive innovation and create local jobs.

Minister D’Ambrosio also announced today that the strategy includes $71.4 million to tackle waste crime and keep Victorians safe, with more resources to stop illegal dumping and stockpiling, and deal with high-risk sites and high-risk substances.

A dedicated Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate will be established within the Environment Protection Authority, which will work closely with WorkSafe Victoria, emergency service agencies, councils and other regulators to improve information sharing and coordination, and keep our state safe.

Recycling Victoria will also set ambitious new goals for improved recycling and recovery in Victoria, including reducing our reliance on landfill with a diversion target of 80 per cent. These targets will create investment certainty for businesses, while promoting jobs and growth in the industry.

To measure progress accurately, Victoria will change the way we collect waste and recycling data. We will establish a new and dedicated data system to provide reliable information on the flow of recycled materials.

The government will also provide $14.6 million to support local projects that boost recycling, reduce littering and take advantage of economic opportunites to reduce waste, particularly in regional communities. A further $1.8 million will be provided to support charities in handling waste from charitable donations.

These announcements are part of a suite of comprehensive measures outlined in the plan to better collect and sort recyclable materials, and better use them in new products, including:

  • a new four-bin household recycling system to separate recyclables, glass, food and organics, and waste
  • a container deposit scheme to be developed in consultation with councils and industry and begin by 2023
  • a statewide education program to help households, businesses and councils transition to the new system
  • the doubling of funding for businesses to invest in infrastructure to sort and process recyclables
  • new grants to make Victoria a leader in recycling innovation
  • new grants to help business reduce waste and increase recycling in their daily operations
  • funding for waste-to-energy initiatives, recognising its role in an integrated waste recovery system
  • a Business Innovation Centre to develop new, innovative technology and solutions to waste problems
  • support to target hazardous waste and protect the community from dangerous chemical stockpiles.

To ensure consistency across the state, the government will also make waste collection an essential service and establish a new dedicated authority to better govern our recycling system.

To support our recycling reforms and provide a stronger incentive to invest in new waste technologies, the Government will progressively increase the landfill levy over coming years to bring it into line with other states.

Victoria’s landfill levy is significantly lower than our neighbouring states, meaning Victoria is too often used as a dumping ground for waste coming from New South Wales and South Australia.

The change reflects an agreement reached by state and territory Treasurers to work towards the harmonisation of landfill levies and will provide a strong incentive to reduce and recycle waste, and drive innovation in new waste technologies.

A circular economy – which emphasises using less to make more – represents a fundamental shift in our approach to waste, and comes in the wake of global disruptions to recycling markets.

The Recycling Victoria package builds on the $135 million the government has already invested in waste and recycling.

Source: State government media release