Victorians encouraged to continue recycling

12 February 2018

Kerbside recycling bin

China recently announced it will restrict some recycling imports, so it’s more important than ever for Victorians to recycle correctly.

China has not completely banned the import of all recycled plastic and paper, but now requires a cleaner and more processed version of these materials.

Recycling is a global market and Victoria is not alone in needing to respond China’s decision to restrict the type of recycling it imports.

Victorians have a great record when it comes to recycling. Since 2001, the amount of recyclable household material diverted from landfill has increased by 64 per cent.

It’s important we maintain this momentum and build on these strengths to meet the current challenge.

All Victorians are urged to continue to carefully separate recyclable from non-recyclable materials and place them in the correct bin.

Remember, if you put your recycling in plastic bags it may end up in landfill because it can’t be sorted and recycled.

Putting the wrong items in the wrong bins can result in problems once your recycling has been collected.

It's also important to note that recycling services differ from council to council.

You can remind yourself what can and can’t be recycled here or by checking with your local council.

Changes to the international recycling trade

At the beginning of this year, China limited the import of mixed, contaminated recyclables, particularly paper/cardboard and plastics. This policy change has had an impact globally, as many countries have relied on China as a major part of their markets for recycled materials.

In the meantime, the recycling industry and local councils are considering how to manage recyclable materials that would otherwise have been exported while longer term solutions are put in place.

Not all recyclable materials from households are exported. There are some great recycling and manufacturing companies in Victoria making new products from recycling materials.

The Government is also investing at record levels in programs to develop local markets for products made from recycled materials, facilitate private investment in resource recovery infrastructure, and educate households and businesses about how to better manage waste.

The 2017-18 state budget invested $30.4 million over four years to improve management of waste and recover more resources. This is the largest single allocation of waste and resource recovery funding ever by a Victorian Government. Details of this investment can be found here.

What else can I do?

Victorians are great recyclers and can have confidence in their recycling system.

But we can all do more to reduce the amount of waste we produce in the first place – whether it is recyclable or otherwise. Using reusable drink bottles and coffee cups is a great start.

We can also help to close the recycling loop within Victoria by buying recycled products, such as Australian-made recycled office paper and 100 per cent recycled toilet tissue.

How does recycling work?

It takes a coordinated effort between local councils, recycling facilities, waste management groups, as well as the companies that turn raw recycled materials into new products. You can read more about the processes here:

Did you know?

  • Victoria recycles most of its waste locally.
  • Of the 12.7 million tonnes of waste generated by Victorians in 2015-16, 8.5 million tonnes (67 per cent) was diverted from landfill for recycling and 7.3 million tonnes of that stayed in Victoria.
  • The materials affected by China’s new trade measures – paper and plastic – make up a relatively small share of this total.
  • In 201516, the Victorian waste industry exported 33 per cent of all paper (511,000 tonnes) and 14 per cent of all plastic recovered in Victoria (21,000 tonnes) to China.