Kerbside waste and recycling in Victoria
While recycling has become an everyday activity for many households and the recycling rate has increased markedly, many recyclable materials that could be recovered and returned to the economy are still disposed of incorrectly or end up in landfill due to a lack of recovery options.
Over the past decade Victoria has seen significant improvements in kerbside recycling. Improvements include an increase in the amount of organics collected; with many councils moving to a three bin collection system, and a reduction in contamination rates for both commingled and organics recycling. This has resulted in approximately 44 per cent (close to 1 million tonnes) of generated waste being diverted from landfill for recycling in the 2014/15.
Audits conducted in 2013 showed that more than two thirds of the contents in the average residual (garbage) bin in Victoria was recoverable, including 55 per cent organics, and 11 per cent dry recyclables. This indicates that there is still opportunity to improve how we recycle and reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.
Time for change
Sustainability Victoria is working with stakeholders to share information and learnings from projects related to kerbside waste and recycling to recognise good practice and innovation in kerbside waste management. Doing so provides a great opportunity for others to learn from those already leading the way.
Local governments across Victoria provide a mix of kerbside collection services, using bins of different sizes, colours and collection frequency. Kerbside collection services are typically tailored to meet the needs and expectations of the community they service. As a result services can vary significantly in cost and performance and for many councils they represent the biggest proportion of the annual budget. As kerbside collection services represent a significant cost to local government it is important that councils find ways to balance the cost of service provision with environmental and social outcomes.
We see that one of the best opportunities to divert more waste from landfill for recycling, is for councils to continue to explore different ways to optimise their existing kerbside collection services or introduce new collection services to separate waste further (i.e. food organics, soft plastics). Sustainability Victoria will continue to produce information and guidance to support decision making for kerbside waste and recycling.
Information provided is designed to help councils at different stages of service delivery, investigate and find ways to improve kerbside collection systems and increase the quality and quantity of materials collected for recycling.