Circular Economy Councils Fund: Information bulletin

Last updated: 9 September 2022
Prior to 1 July 2022, this fund was named the Recycling Victoria Councils Fund.

Update 15 February 2021

We note the funding agreement hyperlinks on the website and guidelines were incorrect and this was amended on 8 February 2021. There is a Short Form Funding Agreement for funding requests of $50,000 and under, and a General Funding Agreement for funding requests of above $50,000. Please ensure you have reviewed and accepted the relevant terms and conditions for your project before submitting your application.

Information sessions

We held information sessions to present an overview of the fund and application criteria.


Questions and answers

This page will be updated regularly, based on questions we receive and those raised at the information sessions.


My organisation is an Alpine Resort Management Board, how are we expected to fit within the project timeframes when we have a limited operating season?

For the current funding round, the Fund will accommodate the specific circumstances of the alpine season for successful Alpine Resort Management Board applications. Please note, we aim to notify the successful applicants in June this year, so it may be too late to begin a project this calendar year.

  • Successful feasibility applications may delay the commencement of the feasibility project until May 2022 to accommodate the alpine resorts.
  • Successful implementation applications have a 2-year timeframe to deliver the project.

My municipality has a small population, and we are dealing with smaller quantities of waste. Are we likely to get funding to improve our waste outcomes if we're competing with larger councils?

We encourage every council and alpine resort management board to apply for funding. Every application will be assessed on its merits. The Stream 1 Feasibility grant is designed for applicants who may not have had the opportunity to undertake pre-work to determine the viability of an idea. The merit assessment includes considerations of the diversity of applications, including geographical spread, municipality size and project type. Collaborative partnerships between councils or alpine resort management boards in either Stream 1 Feasibility or Stream 2 Implementation may assist in increasing the impact of a project.

If we are contracting a third party or consultant to undertake the feasibility study, how does the in-kind contribution work?

You can claim in-kind expenses as 100% of your co-contribution for Stream 1 Feasibility projects. In-kind could include activities related to project delivery such as council staff time, staff meetings, room hire, or communications and engagement activity. If the in-kind contribution cannot match the grant funding request, then you would need to contribute cash to make up the difference so a 1:1 split is achieved.


Can Sustainability Victoria review or provide feedback on my proposed project before I submit my application?

No, this being a competitive process, we are unable to review drafts or provide feedback on the potential merit of a project. We encourage applicants to consider and address how the project meets the eligibility and merit criteria, as outlined in the program guidelines.

Applicants are encouraged to contact their respective Regional Waste and Resource Recovery Groups (WRRG) to discuss their proposal and ensure it aligns with their regional WRRG plan. WRRGs can support Councils and Alpine Resort Management Boards with their application but cannot recommend projects for funding.

See WRRG contact details

Can we use this funding to add a circular economy element to an existing project?

Yes, the funding may be used to add a circular economy element to an existing project. However, the funding must not be allocated towards activities that have already commenced or are completed.

Which waste materials should we focus on for the grant?

Priority materials in the Victorian Government’s Recycling Victoria policy are glass, paper/cardboard, organics, textiles, e-waste, plastics and tyres. However, the Recycling Victoria Councils Fund is designed to provide tailored solutions to a council area’s unique circumstances, so other non-priority materials may be considered for funding.

Do project partners have to be in the same regional area for collaborative partnership applications?

Collaborative partnership applications can be made up of any groups of councils or alpine resort management board from across the state. For example, neighbouring councils or alpine resort management boards could purchase infrastructure that is shared between them. Or, if a metropolitan council requires a lot of space for their project, they could partner with a regional council to undertake the project in the regional council area.

Is a waste education project eligible?

A community education and engagement proposal may be eligible, provided the project can accurately demonstrate its impact on avoiding material becoming waste or materials reused, repaired, repurposed or recycled. This would mean being able to refer to baseline measurements before and after the project (using tonnes or cubic metres) to prove and measure its impact. Education and engagement proposals are encouraged to incorporate evidence-based, best practice approaches.

Is a project addressing littering and illegal dumping eligible?

No. The focus of the program is on waste avoidance and the repair, reuse, repurpose and recycling of materials so they do not enter the waste stream or end up as litter.

Can funding cover the cost of leasing land or premises for the purposes of my project?

No. Please see 'What will be funded' and 'What will not be funded' in the guidelines.

What happens if a Stream 1 Feasibility project identifies a solution that is not eligible for a Stream 2 implementation grant?

Options identified by a feasibility study will not necessarily be funded by an implementation grant. The implementation project will still need to meet the eligibility requirements, purpose and objectives of the Fund.

What does it mean by “the project must not have commenced or been completed prior to signing the funding agreement”?

This criterion ensures that the funding is not allocated towards activities that have already taken place or where a purchase has already been made. The “project” from the perspective of the Fund is all the activities and purchases proposed in the application and budget table. There may be additional project activities or elements that do not form part of the application, and these elements or activities may begin prior to signing the funding agreement.

For Stream 2: Implementation, what do you mean by “evidence” the project is ready to implement? Do we need to undertake a feasibility study?

Applicants for the implementation stream must demonstrate the project is commercial, feasible and capable of being delivered. Evidence that the project is ready to implement might include a business case, feasibility study or demonstration of a similar successful project which can be replicated.

Where would a trial or pilot project fit between the two streams?

Applicants can apply to undertake pilot projects as part of the Stream 1 Feasibility grants, if the purpose of the pilot is to test the feasibility of a project that could be implemented in future. The pilot project would also need to address the eligibility criteria and be targeted towards the program objectives.

Can this funding be used to build storage facilities at an intermediary site before the material is taken to the processor?

This type of project may be eligible for funding, provided it is an element of a larger circular economy project. A project which has a sole focus on storing waste materials is ineligible for funding as it does not align with the program objectives.

Can this program fund digital infrastructure, not just physical?

Yes, the program will fund digital infrastructure that is integral to the project.

Is a feasibility study for a ‘pay as you throw’ scheme eligible for funding?

This project may be eligible for funding under the feasibility stream. Please review and ensure the project aligns with the eligibility criteria in the program guidelines.

If our project is focused on procurement, design or logistics to help a material stream become circular or close the loop, but is not directly related to recycling, would this still be eligible?

Yes, this project may be eligible for funding, provided it demonstrates a measurable impact towards one or more of the program objectives (tonnes diverted from landfill, tonnes reused/repaired/recycled, jobs created etc).

Is purchasing a glass crushing machine to convert glass to sand eligible for funding?

Yes, capital purchases (such as equipment) that are integral to the project are eligible for funding.

Is establishing or expanding a Resource Recovery Centre eligible for funding?

Yes, this type of project is eligible for funding under stream 2 implementation, as it aligns with the program objectives.


Is the application form available in PDF?

Yes. Please visit the SmartyGrants webpage.

You will find a link under the title page ‘Download preview form.’ You can access the application form, without creating a SmartyGrants account. All applications must be submitted via SmartyGrants.

Can an external organisation submit on behalf of a council or alpine resort management board?

No, applications must be submitted by either a local government authority or an alpine resort management board.

How many projects can one council partner on?

There is a limit of two applications per lead applicant (individual or leading a collaborative partnership) per funding round. Councils can also be a project partner on additional applications where they are not the lead applicant.

Can council and alpine resort management boards apply for a feasibility grant and then two successive implementation grants?

Yes, it is possible to apply for two subsequent implementation grants for the same project if there is sufficient justification for doing so, including the expansion of benefits of the project. This would mean you could apply for a feasibility grant in round one of the program, an implementation grant in round two and a second implementation grant in round four.

Can councils and alpine resort management boards be awarded a feasibility grant and an implementation grant in the one grant round?

You could receive two grants in the one grant round, however these must be for different projects. If the feasibility grant is to form the basis of the implementation project, the implementation application would need to be submitted in later rounds, once the feasibility study has been completed. Each implementation grant application requires evidence of the feasibility of the proposed project.

When will funding applications be assessed?

Applications will be assessed against the weighted/merit criteria. The time between receipt, assessment and decision will be subject to a variety of factors including the number and quality of applications received. Applicants will be updated about the status of their application as soon as possible.

When will I know the outcome of my application?

Sustainability Victoria will provide applicants with updates about the progress of their applications as much as possible but is unable to provide a definite approval or announcement date. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding on this and will endeavour to advise you if we experience any unforeseen delays.

Can we apply for other Sustainability Victoria grants for the same project?

Each funding program offered by Sustainability Victoria has different objectives, eligibility requirements and assessment criteria. All applications should be tailored to the specific funding program.

If your project fits the criteria and meets the objectives for more than one program, you may apply for more than one funding opportunity with Sustainability Victoria. If your applications are successful, you will only be awarded funding from one program.

Is there a standard hourly rate for calculating in-kind contributions?

Sustainability Victoria does not provide any standard hourly rate figure to calculate in-kind contributions. Applicants can find a definition of in-kind including examples in Section 9 of the program guidelines. Widely accepted and reasonable assumptions must be applied.

Can I apply for an implementation grant of less than $80,000?

No, the minimum grant ask for implementation projects is $80,000. We encourage applicants with smaller scale projects to consider partnering with other councils to maximise the scale and impact of their projects.

Will late submissions be considered?

In order to be fair to all applicants, late applications will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. Requests for approval for a late application can only be considered if you make an application in writing prior to the grant closing date as stated under late applications in our Terms of Participation in Grant Programs. Examples of exceptional circumstances are outlined in the document.

Please note, it can take some time to upload the relevant documentation to support applications in SmartyGrants.  For this reason, we recommend that you submit your application well ahead of the 3:00 pm deadline.