The (b)ins and outs of recycling

Circular economy Can Victoria Reach Net Zero

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. 

Making recycling easier for everyone 

Victorians are passionate about recycling and willing to make changes, but the results of our community research in 2020 found that 25% of people were unsure of which bin things should go in. 

That’s why we’re pleased the Victorian Government is working with councils across the state to support the roll out of a new standardised 4-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 4-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 help this happen, Victorians were asked what matters most when it comes to recycling at home. 

Recycling more materials

The plan to lift recovery rates is very much in line with our Advice on recycling and resource recovery infrastructure. Our research identified changes needed to improve the capability and capacity of Victoria's recycling and resource recovery sector.  

Our advice focused on 6 priority materials:

  • plastics
  • paper and cardboard
  • glass
  • organic materials
  • tyres
  • electronic waste. 

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

These materials are currently generated in large volumes, have low recovery rates and can pose significant risks to the environment.  

But by reusing these materials and creating new recycled products they present some great economic opportunities for regional and metropolitan communities. These recovered materials can be reused locally or may create new export markets.

It’s great to see our advice being put into practice through the Victorian Government's circular economy policy and plan, Recycling Victoria: a new economy. As part of the Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund, the Victorian Government earmarked $5.73 million for new and upgraded facilities across Victoria in November 2021. 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 6 priority materials, and have identified 87 potential new or upgraded facilities, including 52 across the regions. These facilities will ensure Victoria has capacity and capability to meet our needs, now and into the future. 

Our advice to the Victorian Government on improving recycling and resource recovery will also help our state move further towards becoming a circular economy, where we minimise waste and maximise the use of resources. 

Read our advice on recycling and resource recovery infrastructure

Watch our webinar Is Victoria making progress towards a circular economy?