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08. Methodology

We developed our advice to the Victorian Government in three phases of stakeholder engagement and technical analysis. During the first phase of the project, which was completed in August 2019, we met with and heard from more than 150 organisations and individuals from across the waste sector, business, industry and government who provided valuable input and helped us refine the scope of our research and analysis.

The second phase of the project was the delivery of our Evidence Base Report in October 2019. This report built on the outcomes of our stakeholder consultation with detailed modelling and analysis, supported by international examples for comparison, including engagement with key stakeholders in Wales and England.

Our technical work packages, summarised below, consider the infrastructure, policy and market settings for Victoria’s recycling and resource recovery sector. We also compiled the most up-to-date and comprehensive dataset for recycling and resource recovery performance in Victoria to inform our analysis.

The final phase, the focus of this report, is to articulate the advice and recommendations for the Victorian Government on the basis of the evidence we have gathered through our technical work, site visits to facilities across Victoria and South Australia, and feedback we have received from stakeholders including the Sector Advisory Group. We also coordinated with a Government Advisory Group to ensure resource recovery and recycling work across government was shared.

The full versions of all technical work undertaken to inform this advice are available at infrastructurevictoria.com.au

Inter-jurisdictional analysis

We commissioned an assessment of recycling and resource recovery practices, technologies and markets in other jurisdictions to understand the potential for the Victorian Government to adopt and adapt similar practices, technologies and associated policies.

Sector mapping and market design

We worked with the Centre for Market Design at the University of Melbourne to analyse the Victorian recycling and resource recovery sector. This analysis identified major decision or transaction points in the cycle, those involved at each point, where markets are missing or failing, and what the causes are.

We looked at the incentives influencing each transaction including the availability of information, the effect of regulation and the role of price, and applied market design principles to find approaches to build resilience in the sector.

Infrastructure analysis

The infrastructure analysis identifies and explores technologies and processes for waste and resource recovery. It considers the context for the planning, funding, construction and operation of infrastructure under different policy and investment scenarios.

This enables us to understand the potential for the Victorian Government to adopt specific approaches to resource recovery and recycling through policy, regulation, market design, support of new infrastructure proposals and/or the potential to attract new operators to Victoria to further develop the market.

Materials flow analysis and sensitivity testing

This work presents a current benchmark of waste flows, material market values, value add opportunities and fates of materials in the Victorian waste and resource recovery sector. It identifies opportunities to increase recovery rates and improve material outcomes to realise a circular economy in Victoria. This analysis shows where materials could go if subject to improved processing or end market development under a range of different scenarios, reflecting different policy settings. These policy settings represented a refinement of the scenarios that were considered in our initial infrastructure analysis.

Legislative and regulatory settings

We examined the legislative and regulatory settings in place in the sector as well as any existing plans or strategies that are barriers or enablers to enhancing the sector in Victoria. This work was intended to understand the authorising environment for waste and resource recovery, such as the barriers to using recycled materials in a range of applications and the regulatory requirements for resource recovery facilities (including planning and land use settings).

The final phase, the focus of this report, is to articulate the advice and recommendations for the Victorian Government on the basis on the evidence we have gathered through our technical work, site visits to facilities across Victoria and South Australia, and feedback we have received from stakeholders including the Sector Advisory Group.

Community polling

Using a representative sample of 1,000 Victorian households, we undertook a quantitative online survey in July 2019 to better understand community attitudes and perceptions on recycling and resource recovery. The survey covered attitudes and perceptions towards waste sorting practices, people’s willingness to change their behaviour and perceptions of product packaging.

Community focus groups

We engaged Quantum Market Research to develop a deeper understanding of how Victorians’ attitudes and perceptions will influence the success of various potential kerbside waste sorting and collection initiatives. Focus group participants were engaged to help investigate levels of motivation amongst Victorians to adhere to new sorting and collection initiatives, and the underlying factors that either motivated people or limited their adherence to new rules and practices.

End market barriers and enablers

This work analysed the market for recycled and recovered materials and found that there are variety of market failures and complexities relating to the generation, collection and processing of waste, in addition to weak end markets for many recovered materials.

We identified specific policy levers that government can use to address these market failures and complexities, and facilitate a well-functioning market that will improve resource recovery.

Infrastructure gap analysis

Building on our initial infrastructure analysis, this work was undertaken to inform our understanding of the waste and resource recovery infrastructure needs across Victoria now and into the future, with specific consideration of the needs of different regions and managing a range of different waste material.

This work informed our recommendations about what infrastructure will be required, and where, by analysing current waste and resource recovery infrastructure capacity and capability throughout Victoria and identifying gaps in future capacity or capability.

Our analysis also considered the potential impacts of Victorian and Australian Government policy directions as well as priority materials for short-term effort to increase recycling capacity and capability.

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