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:
- increase disposal costs for the community and businesses
- result in safety issues at recycling facilities
- lead to recoverable materials being sent to landfill
- 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:
- minimising environmental impacts
- maximising recovery of materials
- 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 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.
"I recycle right because..."
Encouraging residents of Taylors Hill to recycle correctly (in the recycling bin) and more (from landfill bin), through community pride.
Better recycling through building connections and trust
Reducing contamination in the recycling bins of temporary international workers by engaging them to help create the solution.
Recycling right starts with you
Engaging the Vietnamese community through video communications
Don’t Waste your Stay: Introducing recycling to serviced apartments within one building in the City of Melbourne.
Increasing resource recovery by reducing the amount of recyclables being disposed in the garbage stream.
Influencing recycling rates at multi-unit sites within the City of Greater Dandenong via partnerships with property managers
Engaging property managers to partner with the council to deliver education and information to residents of multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) to improve recycling rates and reduce contamination levels in kerbside recycling bins at MUDs.
Contamination Engagement Trials
Gaining a clearer understanding of which contamination intervention methods are most effective in our local community.
Improving Resource Recovery in Ararat Rural City
Keeping contamination to a minimum in the recycling bin when it’s introduced to rural areas.
Green Lid Bin Community Engagement
Reducing contamination rates in green bins in designated hot spot communities.
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