Circular Economy Councils Fund Round 2 – Stream 1: Feasibility

Last updated: 12 September 2022
Status: Applications closed
Closing date: Thursday 9 December 2021, 11:59 pm
Total funding available: Between $20,000 and $80,000 per project (depends on number of organisations)

Check the Guidelines for the definition of Small and Large Councils used in this fund.

For Small Councils

$2:$1 (Sustainability Victoria:Applicant)

For Large Councils

$1:$1 (Sustainability Victoria:Applicant)

Available to: Local government, Alpine resort management boards
Prior to 1 July 2022, this fund was named the Recycling Victoria Councils Fund.

The Circular Economy Councils Fund Round 2 supports councils and Alpine Resort Management Boards (ARMBs) in reducing the amount of waste going to landfill or increasing the volume of materials reused, repaired, repurposed or recycled.

It is distributed through 2 streams:

  • Stream 1: Feasibility – Supports exploring Circular Economy solutions, scope project viability or establish business cases for future Circular Economy projects. This page is about Stream 1 (the fund).
  • Stream 2: Implementation – Supports implementing Circular Economy projects with a proven business case.

Applicants can approach their relevant Waste and Resource Recovery Groups for support in preparing applications.

Stream 1 and Stream 2 each has a specific set of requirements. To be eligible for a Stream’s funding, projects must meet each Stream’s requirements.

Stream 2 opens in February 2022. The guidelines and a preview of the application form are available now. To receive updates about it and other funds, subscribe to our newsletter.

These grants are part of the Recycling Victoria policy funding.

Fund recipients

Round 2 of this grant closed on 9 December 2021. View the fund recipients.

1. Fund overview

The fund supports local government authorities in exploring project ideas and building a business case for projects to be implemented in future. The project must explore opportunities to: repair or reuse materials; or avoid or reduce waste.

Local governments may wish to explore innovative solutions that are tailored to their specific areas and circumstances (for instance, materials that are creating the most waste).

Examples of projects that can be done:

  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Business case development
  • Feasibility studies
  • Materials flow analysis
  • Pilots or trials

Collaborative Partnerships are encouraged as these can support project delivery and maximise impact.

1.1 Fund objectives

The project must align with at least one of these objectives:

  • Decrease the volume of waste going to landfill
  • Increase the volume of material reused, repaired, repurposed or recycled
  • Increase Circular Economy activity, stimulating local employment and economic growth

1.2 Funding available

For an individual application

Each project can receive a grant of up to $20,000.

For a group application (Collaborative Partnership)

The funding amount depends on the number of organisations involved:

  • When the partnership has 2 organisations, the project can receive up to $40,000.
  • When there are 3 organisations, the project can receive up to $60,000.
  • When there are 4 or more organisations, the project can receive up to $80,000.

For details on how Collaborative partnerships work, go to the section Eligibility.

Number of organisations in an application Maximum amount of funding that can be requested from Sustainability Victoria

1 organisation


2 organisations


3 organisations


4 or more organisations


1.3 Co-contribution

Co-contributions can be either financial (cash) or In-kind. Up to 100% of the Co-contribution can be In-kind.

The Co-contribution amount depends on a number of factors, including the council type.

For this grant, there are 2 categories:

The list of Small Councils is as follows:

  • Alpine, Ararat, Benalla, Buloke, Central Goldfields, Gannawarra, Hindmarsh, Loddon, Mansfield, Murrindindi, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Queenscliffe, Strathbogie, Towong, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack.
  • ARMBs: Falls Creek, Mount Buller and Mount Stirling, Mount Hotham, and Southern (Mount Baw Baw and Lake Mountain).

Individual application

For Small Councils

$2:$1 (Sustainability Victoria:Applicant)

For Large Councils

$1:$1 (Sustainability Victoria:Applicant)

Group application (Collaborative Partnership)

If the Partnership only involves Small Councils

For every $1 you request from Sustainability Victoria, you need to contribute $0.50 ($2:$1).

If the Partnership only involves Large Councils

For every $1 you request from Sustainability Victoria, you need to contribute $1 ($1:$1).

If the partnership involves a mix of Small and Large Councils, the Co-contribution requirements for each council type remain the same. Due to this, the Co-contribution ratio changes according to the number of partners and the category they belong to.

For example, Council A (Small Council) partners with Council B (Large Council) to deliver a project. The grant request is $40,000. To meet the Co-contribution requirements, Council A contributes $10,000 (Sustainability Victoria $2: Applicant $1). Council B contributes $20,000 to the project (Sustainability Victoria $1: Applicant $1).

To work out the Co-contribution requirements, use this calculator (Excel sheet).

2. Eligibility

2.1 Who can apply

Applicants and Project Partners must be from the 79 Victorian local governments (councils) or 4 Victorian Alpine Resort Management Boards (ARMBs).

Applications can be made by one organisation or more.

When an application is made by more than one local government authority, the group application is known as a ‘Collaborative Partnership’. The main organisation responsible for delivering the project is the Applicant, and the others are the Project Partners.


The Applicant must:

Project Partner

This is only applicable to Collaborative Partnerships.

The Project Partner(s) must:

  • have a direct, clear role in the project
  • have a demonstrated contribution (In-kind or financial contribution) to project delivery.

An application can be made by any combination of local government organisations.


  • A metropolitan council and a regional council can apply together.
  • A council and an ARMB can apply together.

Sustainability Victoria manages several grants. Although you can apply for more than one grant for a project, you can only receive one grant per project. If you’ve already applied for a Sustainability Victoria grant and now find this grant is more relevant or suitable, you can withdraw your prior application by emailing us.

Maximum number of applications

For this fund, an organisation can be part of 2 applications where they are the Applicant.
They can be a Project Partner on additional applications.

2.2 What will be funded

Projects that can be done are:

  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Business case development
  • Feasibility studies
  • Materials flow analysis
  • Pilots or trials

Project activities can include:

  • identifying opportunities to increase the collection, separation and processing of recovered materials
  • investigating the viability of Circular Economy solutions, and demonstrating how they can create potential benefits for the local community
  • responding to the particular constraints, options and opportunities for the local areas
  • trialling or piloting a project on a small scale
  • establishing a business case for implementing a project.

The project can focus on any material, such as the priority materials in the Recycling Victoria policy (e-waste, glass, organics, paper or cardboard, plastics, textiles, and tyres).

Project activities that have been funded include:

  • an analysis of materials flow and end markets to identify opportunities for increased local manufacturing from recovered resources (by City of Ballarat)
  • a pilot of an e-waste collection service using cargo bikes (by City of Melbourne)
  • a study to explore opportunities for processing small business food waste locally (by Nillumbik Shire Council).

Read about the projects that were awarded funding in Round 1.

The following costs are eligible for funding:

  • dedicated staff costs or project management costs for new roles or extension of hours for existing roles – 100% of the increased staff time must be used on the project
  • marketing, advertising and promotional costs
  • business case development, feasibility studies, consultancy or contract work required for the project
  • research, development and demonstration.

Projects must:

  • be located in and service Victoria
  • meet regulatory or planning requirements
  • be completed within 6 months of signing the funding agreement.

2.3 What will not be funded

Funding will not be provided for projects that focus on:

  • littering and illegal dumping
  • waste-to-energy.

These projects will also not be funded:

  • Projects that do not meet regulatory or planning requirements
  • Projects that are being undertaken to comply with regulation or a regulatory notice or order
  • Projects that are making requests for retrospective funding – that is, where activities have already taken place or a purchase has already been made.

The following project costs are ineligible for funding:

  • Lease or purchase of land
  • Development of specifications and standards
  • Routine or cyclical maintenance works
  • Repair of facilities damaged by vandalism, fire or other natural disasters where damage should be covered by insurance
  • Operating costs such as, but not limited to, salaries (for existing staff although these can be in-kind contributions to the project), electricity, water and other utilities
  • Travel, conferences and other educational activities
  • Projects that have received funding from a Recycling Victoria funding program administered by Sustainability Victoria
  • Purchase of equipment or activities that do not relate to research.

3. Assessment process

3.1 Assessment criteria

The assessment panel will assess the application based on merit according to the criteria below.


Weighting: 40%

Describe what you are going to do and what outcomes it will create, including the fund objective(s) that your project is aligned with.


Weighting: 20%

Applicants and Project Partners must demonstrate ability to deliver the project by showing they have the:

  • capability (skills, knowledge and experience)
  • capacity (time and staff resources).


Weighting: 20%

Describe why the project is needed, including by demonstrating:

  • how it provides value for money for Victorians
  • how existing solutions and/or research are not applicable
  • why your organisation has not delivered it before
  • how it is part of relevant plans and policies, such as those of councils and Waste and Resource Recovery Groups (WRRGs).


Weighting: 20%

Demonstrate how the project will be delivered, including identifying:

  • key stages, activities and dates
  • a risk management plan
  • the financial viability of the project.

3.2 Diversity consideration

Sustainability Victoria may overlay rankings to achieve an overall mix of projects that represent:

  • a geographical spread across Victorian regions, including projects from eligible Applicants who have not yet received funding under the program
  • a spread across municipality sizes, including a mix of: regional and metro Applicants; individual applications and Collaborative Partnerships
  • a mix of project types across the 3 program objectives.

3.3 Due diligence checks

A risk-based approach will be used to assess the Applicant’s social, economic and environmental risks in relation to the project. This assessment will include the Applicant’s Related Entities and may include Project Partners (see Section 9: Program definitions).

Applicants and their Related Entities (and, if applicable, their Project Partners) must:

  • have had no Environmental, Safety or Workplace Breaches in the last five years or, if there was a breach, Sustainability Victoria may assess that the Applicant’s breach poses a satisfactory level of risk
  • have not been the subject of an enforceable undertaking or successful litigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman for a breach of the Fair Work Act 2009 or a fair work instrument within the last five years
  • have adequate insurance as outlined in the funding agreement and below:
    • Public liability $10M minimum
    • Professional indemnity $5M minimum
    • WorkCover
  • have not failed to satisfactorily progress or complete previous projects funded by Sustainability Victoria within funding program timelines and without sufficient reason; and
  • manage any conflicts of interest adequately.

Assessment of satisfactory level of risk will include but not be limited to Sustainability Victoria’s consideration of:

  • the seriousness of any finding/s
  • whether the finding/s has been resolved to the satisfaction of the relevant enforcement agency, or the Applicant can demonstrate it is working effectively to resolve the finding
  • the efforts made by the Applicant including implementation of management systems, to ensure no further finding/s occur, and
  • whether, since the finding, the Applicant has had a satisfactory level of compliance with relevant Environmental and Safety Laws and Workplace Laws.

Sustainability Victoria may conduct due diligence checks on the Project Partners involved in the delivery of the project. The Applicant must ensure that any Project Partners agree to cooperate with this requirement and will provide information at Sustainability Victoria’s request.

Sustainability Victoria reserves the right not to award funding to Applicants where the due diligence risk (including that of Project Partners) is unsatisfactory or not able to be managed.

4. Funding conditions

Successful Applicants approved for funding must do the following:

4.1 Before starting the project

  • Participate in an inception meeting to discuss project and funding agreement.
  • Agree to realistic evidence-based and performance-based milestone payments.
  • Provide Sustainability Victoria with insurance certificates of currency.
  • Sign Sustainability Victoria’s funding agreement within 60 days of approval.
  • Provide a project plan.

4.2 During and after the project

  • Deliver the project as outlined in the application and comply with the funding agreement.
  • Contribute to regular project progress updates or meetings.
  • Notify Sustainability Victoria immediately about any delay or change to the project.
  • Provide update reports to Sustainability Victoria at agreed milestones with evidence of expenditure, progress and performance.
  • Provide adequate monitoring and evaluation of the project according to the funding agreement.
  • Collect and release data to Sustainability Victoria. Sustainability Victoria may share or report on the data.
  • Contribute to the project’s promotional activities (for example, provide Sustainability Victoria with support by reviewing and approving written stories or videos).
  • Participate in and contribute to Sustainability Victoria activities to distribute the findings to broader stakeholders (for example, government and industry).
  • Acknowledge that Sustainability Victoria has contributed funding in all communications related to the project.

5. Timeline

Dates may change.

We will provide Applicants with updates as much as possible and when necessary.

Applications open: 21 October 2021

Applications close
: 9 December 2021

Notification of outcome
: March 2022

Funding agreements established
: March – April 2022

Projects commenced by
: 30 April 2022

Project completed by
: 30 September 2022

6. How to apply

The grant program involves a competitive, merit-based application process.

  1. Ensure that your organisation can apply.
  2. Ensure that your project is qualified.
  3. Read Sustainability Victoria’s funding agreement. You must agree to and meet all the terms and conditions to ensure funding.
    1. For grants $50,000 or less read the Short-form grant funding agreement.
    2. For grants more than $50,000 read the General grant funding agreement.
  4. Read Sustainability Victoria’s Terms of participation in grant programs.
  5. Create an account and start your application on the SmartyGrants website.
  6. Submit your application by 11:59 pm, Thursday 9 December 2021. Late applications will not be accepted except under exceptional circumstances.

Your application

  • Allow adequate time to plan, research, gather supporting documentation and draft your application.
  • As this is a competitive grant, we cannot review drafts or provide feedback. Applicants are encouraged to contact their respective Waste and Resource Recovery Group (WRRG) to discuss their proposal. WRRGs can review drafts and provide feedback on applications; they are not involved in the formal assessment of applications. Go to Contact details for WRRGs.
  • You must use SmartyGrants, unless you have written permission from Sustainability Victoria.

Tips for using SmartyGrants

  • Click ‘Save progress’ every 10 to 15 minutes. This prevents your data from being lost if something happens when you’re filling in the form. You will be automatically logged out of the system after 60 minutes of inactivity (where you did not click ‘Save progress’ or navigate between pages). Once logged out, you will close any changes that were not saved.
  • Wait for your file to be uploaded. Wait for your document to be successfully attached before going to another page. If not, the file upload will be cancelled. The maximum size per file is 25MB.
  • Once you’ve submitted your application, you cannot make any changes. Check your application carefully.
  • You will receive a confirmation email. When your application has been submitted successfully, you will get an automatic receipt from SmartyGrants.
  • For any technical issues, please contact SmartyGrants on +61 3 9320 6888 during business hours.

7. Assistance available

7.1 Masterclass on potential Circular Economy projects

At the Circular Economy Masterclass for Councils, find out more about Circular Economy ideas that you may wish to use in your projects.

Date: Wednesday 17 November 2021

Time: 9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Register on Eventbrite

7.2 Speak with your WRRG

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 review drafts and provide feedback on applications; they are not involved in the formal assessment of applications.

Go to Contact details for WRRGs.

7.3 Contact us

We cannot review drafts or provide feedback.


In the subject line, use the grant name: Recycling Victoria Councils Fund – Round 2, Stream 1: Feasibility.

8. Why the Victorian Government is providing this funding

The Recycling Victoria policy represents the Victorian Government’s action plan to reform our waste and recycling system over the next decade. Beyond recycling, this shift will ultimately transform Victoria’s economy.

This fund is to support meeting Recycling Victoria policy’s Goal 2, ‘Use products for more value’. Under this goal, the Victorian government has committed to reducing total waste generation by 15 percent per capita between 2020 and 2030.

This fund also aligns with these focus areas in Sustainability Victoria’s 2020–21 Business Plan:

  • Focus area 1: We influence producers and regulators to retain highest product value
  • Focus area 3: We partner with our community to achieve local solutions.

Our vision for Victoria is a Circular Economy where products are made to last and waste is avoided. A Circular Economy fosters innovation and invigorates existing businesses and creates new ones, delivering more jobs and growth for local, regional, state and global economies.

9. Definitions


The applicant who applies for the funding and is responsible for all details in the submission of an application and the contractual obligations under the funding agreement with Sustainability Victoria if successful for grant funding.

Circular Economy

The Recycling Victoria policy describes a circular economy as:

“A circular economy continually seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of production and consumption, while enabling economic growth through more productive use of natural resources.

It allows us to avoid waste with good design and effective recovery of materials that can be reused.

It promotes more efficient business models that encourage intense and efficient product use, such as sharing products between multiple users, or supplying a product as a service that includes maintenance, repair and disposal.

The value people obtain from the resources used to create goods and services increases.

It transforms our linear economy mindset—take, use and throw away—and fosters Innovation and productivity that invigorates existing businesses and creates new ones, delivering more jobs and more growth for local, regional, state and global economies.”


The required cash or In-kind Contribution to the total project income, made by the Applicant and the Project Partners (if relevant).

Collaborative Partnership

A relationship established between an Applicant and Project Partner/s for the purposes of meeting common project objectives and outcomes. Collaborative Partnerships need to be demonstrated by a formal agreement between the partners that outlines the governance, financial and intellectual property arrangements and roles and responsibilities of each party. A formal agreement must either be in place or be finalised before commencement of the project.

Direct Jobs

Actual new full-time positions created by your project. This can include training or upskilling of employees who would otherwise be made redundant through the implementation of your project.

Environmental, Safety or Workplace Breach

An environmental or safety breach is any past or current prosecution, reportable incident, investigation, notice, penalty, warning, regulatory intervention or enforcement action from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Victorian WorkCover Authority (WorkSafe) or Fair Work or failure to comply with any environmental, safety and workplace laws.

Environmental and Safety Laws

Environmental and safety laws are the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, Environment Protection Act 2017 or any other legislation, regulation order, statute, by-law, ordinance or any other legislative or regulatory measure, code, standard or requirement relating to the protection and safety of persons or property or which regulate the environment including laws relating to land use planning, pollution of air or water, soil or groundwater contamination, chemicals, waste, the use, handling, storage or transport of dangerous goods or substances, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon trading, or any other aspect of protection of the environment.

Financial contribution

Financial Co-contributions may include:

  • any costs associated with the construction or installation of a new asset or a renewal, expansion or upgrade of existing assets
  • procurement of materials or products
  • funding from other federal and state government sources, excluding grants offered under the Recycling Victoria policy.

Full-Time Equivalent Employees (FTE)

The hours worked by one employee on a full-time basis.

Calculating FTE

The calculation is used to convert the hours worked by several part-time employees into the hours worked by Full-Time Employees. For example, you have three employees working the following – 40, 40 and 20 hours per week, giving you 100 hours per week in total.

Assuming full-time hours are 40 hours per week, your full-time equivalent calculation is 100 hours divided by 40 hours which equals 2.5 FTE.

In-kind Contribution

An In-kind Contribution is a contribution of a good or a service other than money.

In-kind Contributions may include:

  • staff time to manage project implementation (project management and installation costs that utilise existing internal resources)
  • time spent on project activities by volunteers (not paid employees of the organisation seeking funding)
  • donated goods or services related to the project.

The following activities cannot be considered In-kind Contributions:

  • operating expenses that are not directly associated with delivering the project
  • opportunity costs such as staff ‘downtime’ during the installation of equipment or implementation of activities.

For more information about In-kind Contributions, go to the Victorian Government webpage Grants – understanding in-kind contributions.

Large Councils

The category comprises the following councils: Ballarat, Banyule, Bass Coast, Baw Baw, Bayside, Boroondara, Brimbank, Campaspe, Cardinia, Casey, Colac Otway, Corangamite, Darebin, East Gippsland, Frankston, Glen Eira, Glenelg, Golden Plains, Greater Bendigo, Greater Dandenong, Greater Geelong, Hepburn, Hobsons Bay, Horsham, Hume, Indigo, Kingston, Knox, Latrobe, Macedon Ranges, Manningham, Maribyrnong, Maroondah, Melbourne, Melton, Mildura, Mitchell, Moira, Monash, Moonee Valley, Moorabool, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula, Mount Alexander, Moyne, Nillumbik, Port Phillip, South Gippsland, Southern Grampians, Stonnington, Surf Coast, Swan Hill, Wangaratta, Warrnambool, Wellington, Whitehorse, Whittlesea, Wodonga, Wyndham, Yarra and Yarra Ranges.

Project Partner/s

Organisation/s in a Collaborative Partnership with an Applicant that has a critical role in the project and a formal commitment to delivering the support required to ensure the project’s success.

Small Councils

This refers to councils with fewer than 15,000 residents (as per the 2019–20 data from Australian Bureau of Statistics). The category comprises the following councils: Alpine, Ararat, Benalla, Buloke, Central Goldfields, Gannawarra, Hindmarsh, Loddon, Mansfield, Murrindindi, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Queenscliffe, Strathbogie, Towong, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack.

The category also includes Alpine Resort Management Boards (ARMBs): Falls Creek, Mount Buller and Mount Stirling, Mount Hotham, and Southern (Mount Baw Baw and Lake Mountain).

Contact us

We cannot review drafts or provide feedback.

In the subject line, use the grant name: Recycling Victoria Councils Fund – Round 2, Stream 1: Feasibility.