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The (B)ins and outs of recycling

How well do you understand recycling? Do you know what material goes in which bin and why?

No, this isn’t a trashy trivia, we’re on a mission to clean up confusion around recycling in the interest of building a zero-waste, circular economy.

We were thrilled to see the Victorian Government’s recent announcement on recycling reforms this week, with the roll out of a fourth bin specifically for glass and funding to deliver a more comprehensive kerbside collection system.

It announced funding to support local councils to roll out the reforms and educate communities in the delivery of a more comprehensive, consistent and effective four bin recycling system.

This is in line with our advice on recycling and resource recovery to better separate the six priority materials and address the barriers to recycling such as confusion and inconsistencies.

We found there are significant benefits in separating glass from other recycled materials as it reduces contamination.

Our Advice on recycling and resource recovery infrastructure report also highlights a need for greater consistency in the rules around recycling, to remove some of the confusion that exists around kerbside and commercial collection.

Victorians are passionate about recycling and willing to make changes, however our recent community polling found 25% of respondents were unsure of which bin things should go in.

The six materials we’re referring to are: plastics, paper and cardboard, glass, organic materials, tyres and electronic waste, which present some challenges but big opportunities.

On the one hand, they are generated in large volumes, have low recovery rates and can pose significant risk to the environment. On the other hand, they present some great economic opportunities for regional and metropolitan communities through being exported overseas or reused locally.

However, the way Victoria’s recycling system currently operates, it isn’t possible to realise all of this potential.

The current recycling and resource recovery system lacks the capacity and capability to process recovered materials to a standard that would allow them to be reused.

This needs to change if we are to achieve the desired goal of becoming a circular economy, and our advice on recycling and resource recovery seeks to do just that by putting a focus on increasing and upgrading waste processing for these materials.

It is great to see our advice and evidence reflected in government policy and action.

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