All 79 local governments in Victoria offer a household kerbside recycling service that covers 96 per cent of Victorian households. The remaining 4 per cent are generally located in remote areas where providing a kerbside recyclables service is not a feasible option.
In 2016–17 the amount of recyclables collected by local government via household kerbside collection services was 591,103 tonnes (equivalent to 236kg per household or 93kg per person). This figure slightly decreased by 0.1 per cent or just under 1,000 tonnes from 2015–16.
Figure 1 shows that since the Victorian Local Government Annual Waste Services Report began in 2001–02 recovery of recyclables steadily increased until 2010–11. Since then, the quantity of recyclables collected has decreased by 5 per cent from 622,223 tonnes in 2010–11 to 591,103 tonnes in 2016–17.
This decline in collected commingled recyclables is most likely due to the reduction in weight of individual plastic and glass packaging materials.
Figure 1: Trend of household recycling collected, Victoria 2001–02 to 2016–17
Cost and geography
In 2016–17 the cost for local government to provide a recycling collection service was $68 million in total (equivalent to $27.09 per household or $10.71 per person), an increase of $4 million or 6.6 per cent from 2015–16.
On average, households in metropolitan local governments generated 2kg more recyclables per household annually than those in non-metropolitan local government areas. Non-metropolitan local governments pay on average $158.40 per tonne to deliver their service compared to metropolitan local governments that pay on average $98.62 per tonne.
Figure 2 shows the cost per tonne for recyclables has decreased steadily since 2001–02 and that the corresponding cost per tonne for garbage collection and disposal has more than doubled. This highlights that recycling waste material is cost effective compared to the more expensive option of disposing of garbage to landfill.
Figure 2: Cost per tonne, recyclables and garbage kerbside service, Victoria 2001–02 to 2016–17
Bin collection system
There are currently four different combinations of garbage and recycling bin systems used by Victorian local governments (in the past there has been up to 14). The most common recycling / garbage bin combination is a 240L commingled fortnightly recyclables bin with a 120L garbage bin. This system is used by 45 (57 per cent) of 79 local governments.
Figure 3 shows that a 240L fortnightly commingled bin system generates 42kg (22 per cent) more recyclables per household annually than a 120L weekly commingled recyclables collection system. Both bin systems and collections are regarded as best practice but the household generation difference is considerable.
Figure 3: Recycling generation by collection system, Victoria 2016–17
Materials collected and contamination
In 2016–17, paper items were the largest category of recyclables collected through kerbside recycling services – accounting for 58 per cent. Glass containers made up 29 per cent and Plastic containers made up 9 per cent.
In 2016–17 contamination levels averaged 6.5 per cent (up from 5.6 per cent in 2015–16). Figure 4 shows contamination rates have fluctuated from year to year, but data validation has also shown that generally this is due to the accuracy of data reported by local governments rather than a significant change in contamination rates.
Figure 4: Contamination rate of kerbside recyclables, Victoria 2001–02 to 2016–17