Keep up your good recycling habits

07 March 2019

Despite challenges facing Victoria’s recycling processing including the recent closure of several recycling facilities due to Environment Protection Authority (EPA) safety breaches, it’s as important as ever to keep up your good habits and continue to recycle.

Why not use this as an opportunity to pick up some new information about recycling correctly and how you can reduce your waste in the first place.

Want to know more?

What can you do to help recycling processing be more effective?

1. Keep recycling and get it right

Recycled bottles illustrationIt’s more important now than ever to make sure that our recycling is sorted correctly.

Continue to sort your recycling and check what current guidelines with your council.

Recycling should be loose in the bin. Do not put recycling in plastic bags. Bagged recyclables can be a hazard to sorters and can clog the machinery at processing facilities. Plastic bags and other soft plastics, like bread bags, can be recycled through RedCycle bins at major supermarkets. Find out where to RedCycle near you.

Textiles, including clothing and shoes can’t be put in household recycling bins, they are considered contaminants and can clog machines. There are many alternative disposal options, including donating and selling. Find out more about reducing, reusing and recycling your unwanted clothing.

E-waste (items which use cords and plugs, or batteries) can’t be recycled through kerbside collections. Check with your council as e-waste recycling might happen in your area.

The Victorian Government is banning e-waste in landfills from July 2019 and is investing in upgrading processing facilities across the State. Learn more about the e-waste program.

Other items like fluorescent tubes, paint, and batteries can be recycled by different pathways, but not through kerbside collections. Find your nearest site for free disposal of household paint, batteries and fluorescent lights.

2. Avoid creating waste

Waste avoidance is the best option to reduce the volume of recycling being processed.

A lot of kerbside recycling is food packaging, so you can make a difference when shopping by avoiding unnecessary packaging and trying reusable items where you can.

  • Buy in bulk or buy larger-volume packages rather than individual items and transfer to smaller reusable containers (for example: buy a one-litre yoghurt tub rather than a smaller six-pack) 
  • Use reusable containers such as water bottles, coffee cups, packaging and shopping/produce bags to reduce packaging
  • Look for reusable covers like beeswax wraps or silicon stretchable and washable wraps instead of cling wrap and foil
  • Eat in rather than getting takeaway or try taking your own reusable containers – this is happening more every day
  • Make some longer terms changes when you see what works for your household, and reduce your general waste as well. A great place to start is with sustainable shopping and making the best choices for you and the environment when it’s purchasing time.

3. Safely store recycling at home

Family recycling

If your recycling bin isn't full, skip the next collection. Many councils have fortnightly recycling collections. Make more room in the bin by squashing items that can be flattened, like juice or milk cartons, egg cartons or cereal boxes.

4. Reuse or re-home items

Vets and animal shelters might be able to use newspapers for animal beds or schools and kindergartens might be able to use clean items like egg cartons, cereal boxes and plastic bottles for craft supplies. Check in first to see if these items are needed before dropping them off.

5. Check what's happening in your council

Recycling guidelines vary across councils, and not all councils councils are by specific challenges. Always check with your council to get the most up to date information for your area.

During a recycling challenge, like the recent closure of some facilities due to an EPA safety breach, recommendations can change from one day to the next as councils work through their options. The Victorian Government was working hard to find temporary, safe storage locations for recycling, and if councils are temporarily sending items to landfill, it is as a last resort and means that they are unable to process it elsewhere or safely store it. Protecting the health and safety of Victorians is the first priority.

What is happening with recycling in Victoria?

In January 2018, China introduced new trade measures that imposed strict quality standards on the import of low quality mixed recyclables, including paper and plastic. In October 2018, Malaysia followed suit by restricting recyclable imports. This change to international market conditions has led to increased stockpiling of recyclables in Victoria and some recycling processors struggling to cope with the increased volume.

While immediately and seriously disrupting the export and processing of recyclables, this also represented an opportunity for Victoria to significantly expand reprocessing capacity and improve the quality of outputs so they can be made into new products.

What is the State Government doing to assist?

In response to the changed market conditions, the Victorian Government established the $37 million Recycling Industry Strategic Plan in July 2018 to boost the strength, safe operations and resilience of the recycling industry in Victoria.

In June 2019, the Victorian Government announced a Recycling Industry Reform package of $34.9 million to further strengthen the recycling sector. This funding will ensure that the resource recovery sector will have the capacity to recycle locally generated waste products into high value commodities right here in Victoria as part of a vibrant circular economy.

Find out more about how the Victorian Government delivers on recycling with a plan for a ‘safe, resilient and efficient’ recycling system.

Long-term initiatives are being supported by the release of the Recycling Industry Strategic Plan, a $37 million-dollar investment in Victoria’s recycling system. Find out more about how the Victorian Government delivers on recycling with a plan for a ‘safe, resilient and efficient’ recycling system.

What is Sustainability Victoria doing?

Under the Recycling Industry Strategic Plan, Sustainability Victoria (SV) introduced a range of short, medium and long term initiatives that were commenced progressively during 2018, starting within weeks of the introduction of China’s 'National Sword' policy. Further investment is continuing through 2019 and beyond.

SV is helping Victoria’s recycling sector to grow and build new products that can use recycled products. This plan aims to stabilise the recycling sector, increase the quality of recycled materials, improve productivity of the recycling sector and to develop markets for recovered materials.

SV is helping:

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