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Improving Resource Recovery in Local Government

Resource recovery is the removal or separation of materials from the waste stream for activities such as recycling, composting, and waste-to-energy generation. Resource recovery reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfill by preventing or delaying the extraction and use of virgin materials, extracts maximum benefit.

Improving the quality of material streams by reducing contamination is an important component to improving resource recovery. Contamination (or putting items in the wrong bin) can reduce the volumes and quality of materials recovered. This can then:

  1. increase disposal costs for the community and businesses
  2. result in safety issues at recycling facilities
  3. lead to recoverable materials being sent to landfill
  4. lead to materials that are hazardous or toxic being sent to landfill.

Improving resource recovery and reducing contamination in Victoria’s organics, commingled recycling and landfill waste streams will ensure that Victoria is:

  1. minimising environmental impacts
  2. maximising recovery of materials
  3. supporting the integrated waste management and resource recovery objectives of the Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan.

The reasons for contamination are complicated, and need targeted, evidence-based interventions to address them. One way we have been working to address this is through our Improving Resource Recovery research project.

In 2016, eight Victorian councils successfully co-designed and tested localised interventions aimed at improving resource recovery in their kerbside collections as part of this project.

The projects were co-funded by SV and the participating councils, and included a two-day design forum where local government participants worked in groups and developed their interventions with support from a range of industry, community, research, government, and behaviour change and people-centred design experts.

The great thing about this type of event is that there’s a diverse range of participants coming together to share knowledge and collaboratively design solutions. The groups work progressively through a series of activities that shape their thinking about the ‘problem space’ and the ‘solution space’.

Design events are carefully planned out. The aim is to develop a realistic, practical solution that is the ‘best fit’ answer for the challenge at hand. 

Overview of 2016 projects

Victorian Waste Education Strategy Conference August 2016

Sustainability Victoria partnered with the Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group to deliver the inaugural Victorian Waste Education Strategy Conference in Ballarat in August 2016.

The purpose of the conference was to support stakeholders to build their waste education knowledge and skills and to provide networking opportunities.

Day one

Day one provided an opportunity for eight councils that participated in the Improving Resource Recovery Project to share their stories, outcomes and lessons learnt with their peers. A summary of each project, as well as their presentations, is below.

Waste Education Strategy conference presentations

Waste Education Strategy conference presentations Word version


Day two

Included a range of hands-on workshops and a panel discussion from state and local government and industry.  Topics include evaluation and innovation in waste education. The presentations are below

Back to earth presentation Back to earth presentation Word version


Be your local waste hero presentation Be your local waste hero Word version


Business innovation ASPIRE presentation Business innovation ASPIRE Word version


Evaluation workshop presentation Evaluation workshop Word version


Material efficiency presentation Material efficiency Word version


Qualitative research presentation Qualitative research Word version


Social innovation presentation Social innovation Word version