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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? 

Maybe you’re a dedicated backyard composter, reusable cup enthusiast or a conscious consumer on a mission to eliminate plastic waste.  

But did you know that what you can and can’t recycle can differ from council to council?  

For example, a number of councils actually accept pizza boxes for recycling, provided it isn’t laden with food and grease.  

You probably know that when an item is disposed of in the wrong bin, contamination occurs, reducing the value of recyclables.  

However, we can change this by achieving greater consistency in the way we separate materials like glass, plastics and paper, helping to lower contamination and improve the quality of recycling. 

Victorians are passionate about recycling and willing to make changes, but the results of our community polling released last year found that 25% of respondents were unsure of which bin things should go in. 

That’s why we’re thrilled to see the Victorian Government working with councils across the state to support the roll out of a new standardised four-bin household waste and recycling system, including dedicated bins for glass and food waste.  

The plan to standardise recycling means that all households will have access to services for separated glass recycling by 2027 and food and garden organics by 2030.  

Over the next few years, most households will transition to a colour-coded four-bin system of green for food organics and garden organics, purple for glass, yellow for mixed recyclables and red for general waste. Standardised lists of what can and can’t be recycled will also be developed to reduce confusion around what materials can go in the recycling bin. 

To enable this to happen, consultation is currently open to Victorians on what matters most when it comes to recycling at home via the Engage Victoria website. 

The plan to lift recovery rates is very much in line with our Advice on recycling and resource recoveryinfrastructure last year, which identified changes needed to improve the capability and capacity of the state’s recycling and resource recovery sector.  

Our advice focused on six priority materials: plastics, paper and cardboard, glass, organic materials, tyres and electronic waste. 

We’ve found that while lifting recycling rates for these materials present some challenges, there are also big opportunities.  

On the one hand, they are currently generated in large volumes, have low recovery rates and can pose significant risk to the environment.  

On the other hand, by reusing these materials and creating new recycled products they present some great economic opportunities for regional and metropolitan communities through being exported overseas or reused locally. 

It’s great to see our advice being put into practice through the Recycling Victoria – a new economy policy and action plan. As part of the Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund, the Victorian Government last month earmarked $5.73 million for new and upgraded facilities across Victoria. This will increase Victoria’s output of recycled organics, textiles and glass by up to 350,000 tonnes each year. 

We’d like to see a continued focus on the six priority materials, and have identified 87 potential new or upgraded facilities, including 52 across the regions, to ensure Victoria has the capacity and capability to meet our needs, now and into the future. 

This will also help Victoria achieve the desired goal of becoming a circular economy, where we minimise waste and maximise the use of resources. 

To have your say on standardising recycling at home across Victoria, head to the Engage Victoria website. Consultation closes 12 January 2022. 

And you can check out what is currently collected in your council area on the Sustainability Victoria website. 

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